Carmel, CA Alzheimer's Drug, Gammagard (Intravenous Immunoglobulin Therapy (IVIG)), May Help Victims, But It's Expensive : View From A Private Duty Caregiverby Richard Kuehn on 07/18/12
There has been an exciting new development in Alzheimer's research, although unfortunately the promising drug is extremely expensive and not covered by insurance. A new study found that a medicine traditionally used for immune disorders may offer long-term benefits for those suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The findings are likely to spur off-label use for Intravenous Immunoglobulin Therapy (IVIG) which is made from blood plasma of healthy adults. Although the study was tiny, just four patients, it did halt the progress of Alzheimer's in its track and the fact that it's been on the market since 2004 may have many that are in the early stages of the disease asking their Doctor for the drug. The maker of the drug Gammagard, Baxter International, said the study suggest the drug is a viable long-term therapy in this group of Alzheimer's patients. The study is a follow-on to a clinical trial which was so promising that the company moved the study into late stage testing. A Phase III trial is set for 2013. Although the drug is not approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, it's not uncommon for Doctors to prescribe drugs for off-label use. However, this could create a shortage of the drug. It takes 130 plasma donations in order to make enough of the drug to treat a patient for a year. One Doctor, Gayatri Devi, director of New York Memory Services, said she has used the drug to treat Alzheimer's patients for seven years and about 70% of patients have responded, although by varying degrees. Sadly, she said only 5% of her patients can afford the drug, which costs $50,000 per year. Since it's not approved by the FDA to be used to treat Alzheimer's disease, it's not covered by insurance. Hopefully researchers can figure out why this drug is working and try and figure out a way to turn this into a new drug which is easier to make and cheaper. In the meantime, wealthy victims of Alzheimer's disease are expected to be clamoring for the drug, particularly since victims typically decline dramatically in the 18 months following diagnosis. This decline is irreversible. Regular readers of my blog know that I am a big supporter of the Alzheimer's Association, which has a 24-hour help line at 800-272-3900. They are also the largest private supporter of Alzheimer's research in the United States. Please help them with their important mission if you can by clicking on this link for Family inHome Caregiving fundraising site for Alzheimer's Association.