Their phones are ringing off the hook and their email inboxes are filling up with questions without answers.
Doctors who care for patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease — or people worried that they might be — are feeling the brunt of last week’s decision by the Food and Drug Administration to grant conditional approval to the first new Alzheimer’s drug in 18 years. That approval is broad, making no distinction between the mild, moderate, and advanced stages of the memory-robbing disease and setting no requirements for its diagnosis.
“Families have been calling, [saying,] ‘You have to understand how this is a devastating disease,’” said Sharon Brangman, a geriatrician and director of the Upstate Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease at SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, N.Y. The medical staff was getting so many inquiries that doctors crafted a statement for nurses to relay to families, saying the drug is not yet available for prescription, nor is the infrastructure needed to appropriately prescribe and monitor this medication.
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