There has been a lot in the news lately about aducanumab (Aduhelm), a new monoclonal antibody treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. 

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disease and is the most common cause of dementia. It causes destructive, progressive, and irreversible changes in the brain. A common feature is the accumulation of a protein called amyloid-β in the form of plaques and tau tangles. Both are thought to cause cell death, but they have not yet been shown to be the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

Aducanumab (Aduhelm), a drug that reduces amyloid-β plaques, was approved by the FDA on June 7, 2021 for treatment of all stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The approval was quite controversial for several reasons.

  • Many experts are concerned that accelerated approval of aducanumab without convincing evidence is premature, especially since it was only tested on those with early Alzheimer’s disease but was approved for all stages. In fact, there is no evidence at all that aducanumab is effective in patients with advanced Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The government is now looking at the issue since Alzheimer’s disease primarily occurs in seniors and Medicare will be picking up most of the tab for a medication that may have little benefit.
  • The Boston Globe reported unofficial meetings between the manufacturer and an FDA director that may have influenced the decision. 

The reason for the controversy can be confusing, so I will try and explain the different sides of the issue to help you understand what the fuss is about. There are basically three perspectives to consider when breaking down this issue.

  1. Those who believe there was not enough good evidence that aducanumab improves patients with Alzheimer’s disease to approve the drug, especially for use in those with advanced disease.
  2. Those who feel that the fact that there are no other available treatments justifies the use of aducanumab without convincing evidence and despite the known side-effects.
  3. Those who are concerned that the healthcare system cannot afford the $58,000 yearly cost of medication, along with the cost of brain-imaging tests, infusions, and provider visits, especially if the benefits are only subtle.

The Evidence

Basing medical treatments on solid evidence is of major importance to healthcare providers. There are too many examples of unhelpful

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Photo by Dakota Roos

Summer has arrived in the United States. Over the following months, it will be important to protect ourselves from the health risks posed by the sun and heat. Regardless of skin color, exposure to the sun carries many dangers to one’s skin — from wrinkles often associated with aging to freckles, sunburns, benign tumors, or cancerous skin lesions. Exposure to heat can also have many negative impacts on one’s health ranging from a rash, exhaustion, fainting, or even death. During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, being in crowded areas with unvaccinated people — even outside — without appropriate protection measures can pose health risks to those around them.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages everyone — especially those with pale skin; blond, red, or light brown hair; or who has a personal or family history of skin cancer — to practice care while in the sun. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage skin in as little as 15 minutes, and

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June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. A vital part of awareness is knowing that migraines are much more than just a bad headache. Migraine is a neurological disease with debilitating symptoms that affects over 39 million people in the United States. Most people who experience migraines get them once or twice a month, but more than 4 million are affected by daily chronic migraine with at least 15 days of debilitating symptoms every month.

Everyone has headaches, but not everyone experiences migraines. Migraine is not a measurement of headache pain. Many people think there’s a scale: mild pain, moderate pain, severe pain, migraine. This is a misconception. A migraine may be any level of pain, from none to severe. Migraine involves nerve pathways, brain chemicals, and often runs in families but also has environmental factors. There is no single migraine pattern. Some people find certain foods bring on a migraine, while others may find bright or flashing lights start the process leading to a full-blown migraine. 

There are

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Last month, we observed National Women’s Health Week. For the month of June there is Men’s Health Week, held each year to encourage men to make their health a priority. There are many tips for men to improve their health, and we at NeedyMeds have resources for a number of conditions that predominantly affect men.

There are many ways to observe National Men’s Health Week such as taking a bike ride, committing to eat healthier, quitting unhealthy habits, or getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Men can improve their health by getting a good night’s sleep, quitting tobacco and avoiding second-hand smoke, being more active in daily life, and managing stress. Being aware of your own health is important as well. Be sure to see your doctor for regular check-ups and get tested for diseases and conditions that may not have symptoms until there is an imminent health risk. Testicular and prostate cancers are easily detected with regular checks. Men are encouraged to begin yearly screenings at 40-50 years of age, especially if you have a family history.

For men over 45 years of age, the most

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In 2020, there were 19,402 people killed with guns in the United States — not including 24,156 suicides. This is an increase of 25% more homicide victims killed with guns than the previous year and is the highest death toll since gun mortality data was first recorded in 1979. Mass shootings, incidents where four or more people are shot, increased nearly 50% year over year.

Gun violence is a public health crisis in the United States. The price of lives lost and the consequences for the victims’ loved ones and communities is truly immeasurable. The economic cost, however, can be measured: $229 billion every year; $12.8 million every day. These costs include medical treatment, long-term medical and disability expenses, mental health care, emergency services, legal fees, long-term prison costs, police investigations, and security enhancements. Even students and teachers who participate in active shooter drills can experience profound mental or emotional distress.

Gun violence is a unique problem to the United States among nations not in open warfare or deeply corrupted by criminal organizations.

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