U.S. officials granted full approval to a closely watched Alzheimer’s drug on Thursday, clearing the way for Medicare and other insurance plans to begin covering the treatment for people with the brain-robbing disease.
The Food and Drug Administration endorsed the IV drug, Leqembi, for patients with mild dementia and other symptoms caused by early Alzheimer’s disease. It’s the first medicine that’s been convincingly shown to modestly slow the cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s.
Japanese drugmaker Eisai received conditional approval from the FDA in January based on early results suggesting Leqembi worked by clearing a sticky brain plaque linked to the disease.
The drug’s prescribing information will carry the most serious type of warning, indicating that Leqembi can cause brain swelling and bleeding, side effects that can be dangerous in rare cases. The label notes that those problems are seen with other plaque-targeting Alzheimer’s drugs.