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The news Tuesday night that a clinical trial of an experimental Alzheimer’s therapy had succeeded hit like a blast — at last, a rare win in a disease devastating nearly 6 million Americans and countless more caregivers.

The trumpeting from the companies Eisai and Biogen relied on data that showed that people receiving the therapy, lecanemab, saw a slower decline versus those on a placebo. That finding was based on a .45-point difference between the groups on an 18-point scale called the Clinical Dementia Rating sum of boxes, amounting to a 27% reduction in the rate of cognitive decline.


But translating what that statistical gobbledygook could mean for patients living with Alzheimer’s is a different challenge, one that physicians will have to navigate as they weigh whether to prescribe the treatment (presuming it wins regulatory approval) and for which patients.

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