For the first time in 20 years, a new Alzheimer’s drug gets US approval

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US government health officials on Monday approved the first new Alzheimer’s drug in nearly 20 years, shrugging off warnings from independent consultants that a long-debated treatment has not been shown to help slow the devastating brain disease.

The US Food and Drug Administration said it granted approval for the drug developed by the company “Biogen” for Alzheimer’s patients.

It is the only drug that US regulators have said is likely to treat the underlying disease rather than manage symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia.

Experts say the approval decision could affect millions of older Americans and their families, and could spark disagreements among doctors, medical researchers and patient groups.

The drug is also said to have far-reaching effects on the criteria used to evaluate experimental treatments, including those that show only additional benefits.

The new drug, which was developed by “Biogen” in cooperation with the Japanese company “Esai”, did not stop mental decline, but only slowed it in one study. The drug is given as an intravenous solution every four weeks.

The US Food and Drug Administration is requiring the drug company to conduct a follow-up study to confirm the drug’s benefits for patients.

If the study fails to show efficacy, the FDA could withdraw the drug from the market, although it rarely does.

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