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Alzheimer's groups speak out against proposed Medicare restrictions on controversial drug

William Burke
Matt York
In this Aug. 14, 2018 file photo, Dr. William Burke goes over a PET brain scan at Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Phoenix. The drug company Biogen Inc. says it will seek federal approval for a medicine to treat early Alzheimer's disease, a landmark step toward finding a treatment that can alter the course of the most common form of dementia. The announcement Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, is a surprise because the company earlier this year stopped two studies of the drug, called aducanumab, after partial results suggested it was not working.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's accelerated approval of an Alzheimer's drug known as aducanumab, or Aduhelm, drew major controversy. But the drug brought hope for many patients.

Now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is proposing that Medicare only cover the drug for individuals enrolled in clinical trials. Alzheimer’s advocacy groups are speaking out against the proposal. CMS officials have said they plan to announce a final decision by April 11.

Joining Cincinnati Edition to discuss Aduhelm are Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Center for Cognitive and Memory Disorders Director Douglas Scharre, MD; Cincinnati resident Shelley Goshorn, whose partner is in a clinical trial for Aduhelm; The Alzheimer's Association Greater Greater Cincinnati Chapter Executive Director Annemarie Barnett; and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Professor of Epidemiology Caleb Alexander, MD, who was a member of the FDA advisory panel that reviewed two clinical trials related to the drug.

Listen to Cincinnati Edition live at noon M-F. Audio for this segment will be uploaded after 4 p.m. ET.

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