Bad Medicare decision on Alzheimer’s drug


In July 2021, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved aducanumab, the first treatment to treat the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease. In other words, it’s the first drug that doesn’t just treat the symptoms of this devastating disease that affects 6.2 million Americans and their families; rather, it targets the underlying pathophysiology of the disease.

Sadly, the hope of so many people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families was dashed on January 11 when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced their proposed ruling that Medicare would not pay for the aducanumab, except in clinical trials. CMS has never restricted access to an FDA-approved drug like this, and that is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, by the time you read this letter, the ‘public’ comment period for the draft decision proposed by CMS will be over. However, it is not too late to ask our elected officials to act on behalf of all people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. Importantly, aducanumab is the first in what may be a new era of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. CMS’s coverage decision matters now, and it matters because additional therapies in the same class as aducanumab are FDA-approved.

As a Registered Nurse, Board Member of the Alzheimer’s Association of Northeastern New York, Community Educator for the Association, and Alzheimer’s Ambassador to Senate Majority Leader Schumer, I call on all members of Congress to act boldly and decisively on behalf of the 6.2 million Americans, including more than 400,000 New Yorkers, living with Alzheimer’s disease to work with CMS to ensure the equal access to all FDA-approved treatments for this devastating disease.

Jennifer Pettis
Clifton Park

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