Protesters demand Medicare and Medicaid cover FDA approved Alzheimer’s treatments

Published: May. 17, 2023 at 5:53 PM EDT|Updated: May. 19, 2023 at 6:06 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers, and advocates showed up in force at the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services building in downtown Atlanta.

They’re demanding that the agency, known as CMS, cover two drugs with promising hope for Alzheimer’s under Medicare and Medicaid coverage.

As of now, the two Alzheimer’s drugs in question are not yet traditionally FDA approved.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, they have only been through an accelerated approval.

“I just want to be with my grandchildren. I want to lay next to my husband and know who he is and not wonder,” said Arthena Caston, an Alzheimer’s patient.

More time, is what Caston says she needs most.

She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016. The doctor said she had 10 good years before her memory fades completely.

“My every day, my every thought is will I live to see my grandchildren? Will I be there with my husband, what will I do,” she said.

Caston, who is now 58, is running out of time.

She’s hopeful for access to the drugs, Leqembi and Aduhelm. For now, CMS is not budging until the FDA gives traditional approval and then, according to a statement released by the agency in February, says it will provide “broader coverage.”

In that same statement, the agency says “CMS is required to examine whether a medication is reasonable and necessary. This standard differs from the criteria used by the FDA to assess whether medications are safe and effective. "

It’s not fast enough for Ann Sechrist. Her husband was part of a clinical trail for the drug, Leqembi.

With the trial now over, she says his health is rapidly declining.

“All FDA drugs are covered by Medicare except Alzheimer’s and that’s not right,” Sechrist said.