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Come Monday, we should learn whether the Food and Drug Administration will approve the first new drug since 2003 to help slow the relentless cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

While there is much uncertainty swirling over whether the drug will be approved, how effective it is, how much it should cost, and how it could be administered given the shortage of memory specialists and brain imaging machines required to identify eligible patients, one thing is abundantly clear: Approval of Biogen’s aducanumab, or other similar medications rising through the drug development pipeline, is likely to only increase massive racial inequities in the treatment of the more than 6 million Americans with Alzheimer’s.


Black people are twice as likely, and Hispanic people are 1.5 times more likely, than white people to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias. But they are far less likely to have the condition diagnosed. And patients of color are less likely to be referred to specialists, something that’s especially key for Alzheimer’s care.

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  • I find your report and conclusion on the enequity of treatment therefor the “presumed” enequity of the latest breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer’s misdirected at least and unsubstantiated at best. Here’s why my mother-in-law a white female was also misdiagnosed in her early 50’s and dismissed as depressed and told a little forgetfulness comes with age. We sometime down the road were told that our repeated trips to the doctors office for “frivelous” “nonsymptomatic” behaviors would not be paid for by Medicare. We were forced to watch her decline to a point that it could no longer be ignored. The physician made the diagnosis without so much as a “oops” and she passed 4 months later. My sister-in-law wondered if anyone else had been through the same treatment so she took to her social media outlets as well as her church contacts what she found is this…IT IS A TRAVISTY THAT KNOWS NO BOUNDS NOT OF COLOR, GENDER, RACE, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, OR ECONOMIC STATUS THEY ARE ALL BEING DISMISSED AND MISDIAGNOSED! AND IF THERE IS A DEMOGRAPHIC LEFT OUT OF TRIALS AND YOU KNOW ABOUT IT START PENALIZING BIG PHARM NOT ANY COLOR OR GENDER OF ALZHEIMERS PATEINT! I WOULD LIKE A LIST OF REFERENCES THAT YOU RECEIVED THIS INFORMATION AND NUMBERS FROM PLEASE.

  • I truly respect Duarte’s involvement, action, and participatory spirit – and she is rightfully angry at the lack of involvement by her people. The doctor who diagnosed CJD and nonchalantly waved the patient away (“google it” ??) is a criminal. Those who cannot (involuntarily or voluntarily) speak the doctor’s language must be accompanied by someone who does. But if Black must have a first capital letter – then this must be done for White too – why discriminate against Whites (who happen to do the bulk of research)? It seems that Duarte is on this page too (and it is not mentioned but Dr. Beau Ances is also White). Good for her.

    • Thanks for finding the positive in this article, Kathryn J. The title and and not-so-subliminal bias are quite the opposite. The heavily tainting “race” angle breaks down the merit of an Alzheimer drug altogether.

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