MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) — On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new drug, Aducanumab (Biogen/Eisai), to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Representatives from the Alzheimer’s Association expressed a lot of excitement for the new treatment.

Those with the South Carolina chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association said this treatment is nearly 20 years in the making. 

Beth Sulkowski, the Vice President of Communications and Advocacy for Alzheimer’s Association of South Carolina said 20 years ago was the last time a new drug for treatment was approved. Until Monday, the FDA has only approved drugs that masked or lessened the symptoms of the disease.

Aducanumab, according to Sulkowski, is a giant step forward in terms of research, as it’s the first treatment of its kind that is said to help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. 

The research was done in part by Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in an effort to assist even some of the 95,000 South Carolinians who live each day with this degenerative disease. 

The transfusion Aducanumab—translates into more than just hope.

“This translates into more time [for those] who are living in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, so that’s more time for people to actively participate in daily life, to maintain as much independence as possible for as long as possible, and to hold onto those memories longer and continue to make memories longer with their families,” said Sulkowski.

The drug also points out importance of early detection as many only think of Alzheimer’s in its later stages when the decline has begun. 

Sulkowski went on to note that the drug will not reverse that kind of damage to the brain after the progression has gone on for so long. The window of opportunity is really through early detection.

As for procedural items, she went on to note that they are going to have to be worked out. Those items include developing enough stock of the treatment as seen with the COVID-19 vaccine, to how insurance will cover the costs. The questions even go into what kind of diagnostic tools will be required to show that people are appropriate for this treatment.

For more on the Alzheimer’s Association and for their help-line, click here.