New FDA-approved Alzheimer's drug is the first in 18 years. Stigma delays finding a cure.
For the first time in 18 years, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new medication for Alzheimer's on Monday. In response, doctors' offices and hospitals were inundated with calls from friends and families of patients who want access to the drug — despite strong concerns over its efficacy. In fact, two members of the outside panel that recommended that the FDA not OK the drug given its uneven results quit in protest after their advice went unheeded.
The outpouring shows how much people are yearning for effective treatments for Alzheimer's. The anticipated explosion in diagnoses of the disease over the next decades is only set to intensify the push. Already the National Institutes of Health is expected to spend more than $3 billion on Alzheimer's research this year.
Given the need and the extensive investment of resources, why are effective treatments so difficult to develop? One reason is stigma. I know this from my own family's experience.
For more than a decade, family members whispered about my father's failing memory. But it was only after he got lost during …
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