WASHINGTON D.C.: The Alzheimer's Association is lobbying Congress to enable early Medicare coverage of a new class of drugs, beginning with Leqembi, which promise to slow the spreading of the disease in patients.
For this purpose, the group has sent 1,000 people diagnosed with or caring for someone with Alzheimer's to meet with all 535 members of Congress across the US.
In interviews with four national and local officials, the grassroots lobbying campaign is being led by state-based chapters of the Alzheimer's Association, with the aim of persuading the Medicare health program for people aged 65 and older to provide "full and unrestricted coverage" to the drugs when they first reach the US market, under an accelerated approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Once the drugs receive full commercial approval from the FDA, wider Medicare coverage will become available, but this process will require more data from drugmakers and could take months.
However, the Alzheimer's Association stressed that patients not have the time to wait and hundreds of thousands of elderly people with mild dementia may progress to a more advanced stage of the disease during that period, resulting in their no longer being eligible for the new drugs.
"Treatments taken in the early stages of Alzheimer's would allow people more time to participate in daily life, remain independent and make health care decisions for their future," said Alzheimer's Association President Joanne Pike, in a statement.
After the first of the new drugs, Japan's Eisai and Biogen's Leqembi, showed evidence in trials that they could slow the advance of Alzheimer's in early stages of the disease, they won FDA approval in January under an accelerated review process. Eisai priced the drug at $26,500 annually.
Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published data that showed that an estimated 6.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, which is the fifth leading cause of death for adults over 65.