Times: new Alzheimer's drugs may have severe side effects

February 20, 2024  18:22

Scientists have warned about the possibility of dangerous side effects of the latest drugs for Alzheimer's disease - the risk of brain swelling and bleeding, The Times reported.

According to the newspaper, these are such "revolutionary" drugs as lecanemab, created by the Japanese company Eisai and its US partner Biogen, and donanemab by the US firm Lilly. These drugs can slow cognitive decline by clearing the toxic amyloid protein from the brain.

However, experts warned that there were "significant gaps" in published safety data on the two Alzheimer's drugs, which can cause potentially serious side effects. They did not rule out the risk that the negatives of taking them could outweigh the potential benefits of the "revolutionary treatment".

According to the disclosure, during a study on the effects of lecanemab, about 21% of those taking the drug experienced brain swelling or bleeding, compared with 9% of those receiving a placebo. Most of the trial participants - those with mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimer's disease with confirmed amyloid deposition - had their problems resolved, but 1% of the nearly 1,800 subjects experienced serious side effects. Three patients who experienced brain swelling and bleeding died after the study ended.

According to David Thomas, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, "like many other first-generation treatments, lecanemab and donanemab have relatively modest efficacy and carry a risk of serious side effects that need to be carefully studied before they can be used in the UK."

Nevertheless, a decision on the possible approval of the use of lecanemab in the UK could come as early as next week, and donanemab later this year, the publication reported.

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