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Biogen’s new drug is the first of its kind in nearly 20 years.

Alzheimer’s is one of the worst medical scourges of the elderly in the modern age. According to statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association, over 6 million US citizens currently live with this degenerative disease that slowly destroys one’s cognitive faculties. According to those same statistics, at its current trajectory, the number of people who will live with Alzheimer’s by the year 2050 will number nearly 13 million. It is for this reason that the medical community has been researching treatments for decades, but unfortunately, nothing concrete has been found. That, however, may be due to change.

Today, the US Food and Drug Administration awarded approval to Biogen’s newest pharmaceutical development, aducanumab, also known as Aduhelm. Aduhelm is the first drug in nearly two decades to be approved by the FDA for the purposes of slowing the loss of mental ability caused by Alzheimer’s. Not only is this a potentially major accomplishment for the field of health and medicine, it’s also an extremely lucrative opportunity for Biogen, with billions of dollars in store for them if the treatment is confirmed to work.

“We are well-aware of the attention surrounding this approval,” said Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “We understand that Aduhelm has garnered the attention of the press, the Alzheimer’s patient community, our elected officials, and other interested stakeholders.”

“With a treatment for a serious, life-threatening disease in the balance, it makes sense that so many people were following the outcome of this review,” she added.

The FDA will be keeping a close eye on Aduhelm as it begins commercial circulation. Biogen will also be conducting additional clinical trials to ensure they didn’t miss anything potentially hazardous the first time around.