The medical community is now closer than ever to finding treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.
This breakthrough is the result of decades of heartbreak and failure for doctors, researchers, pharmacists, patients, and caregivers.
Fierce Biotech covered the aftermath of Biogen’s controversial approval of Aduhelm. We discovered a common thread among many top pharma companies that are developing the most advanced treatments: women.
After we had gotten through the initial news wave, we started collecting their stories. We wanted to find out how they managed to keep going.
Many people look to their patients who they have seen over the years for support. Patients and caregivers push for any new treatment, even if it is only a modest improvement in the face of a devastating diagnosis. This was the core of FDA’s Aduhelm approval. Agency officials stated that patients had pleaded for a chance and they wanted one.
“It’s heartbreaking to see these people because many of them are in their 50s or 60s, not really old people–[and] they are beginning to lose identity but know it’s happening,” Maha Radhakrishnan M.D., Biogen’s Chief Med Officer. “I used to be able to see these patients and I always thought, ‘I hope they get more than symptomatic relief.’
Biogen’s therapy will work, regardless of whether you agree with it. Radhakrishnan stated that she wouldn’t have believed this if she had been asked when she began her practice in 1997 or 1998.
“This is what makes us do what we do. Although research and development are not always easy, we persevere. She said that it is what it takes for pioneers to succeed.”
She’s not the only one. Genentech’s Global Head for Neurodegeneration Rachelle Doody M.D. PhD has been doing this for decades. This is a long time ago when scientists didn’t know that they could drug Alzheimer’s.
It’s like asking why someone would want to go into Alzheimer’s when there have been so many failed drug trials. Doody stated that there weren’t any drug trials at the time he started. “[People] were just starting to talk about dementia due to Alzheimer’s and that it could be diagnosed. It could be a target for treatment.”
According to Brandy Matthews (M.D.), who is the medical launch lead for Eli Lilly’s donanemab within the company’s global Medical Affairs Organization, one thing has remained constant throughout all the changes in drug development: the strength of patients, and their caregivers.
Matthews stated, “I have been overwhelmed by the fact that patients and caregivers are in such difficult situations, it is a time when they express their gratitude to me for sharing knowledge and expertise.”
These are just three examples of women fighting against Alzheimer’s disease. Many more women continue to fight this terrible neurological disorder despite all the challenges.
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