Hope for some, too risky for others: Locals respond to new FDA-approved Alzheimer’s drug


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — After the FDA released a new drug that could slow early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, many people had mixed responses.

Some say risk factors and cost are too worrisome, but others say it’s a sign of hope.

Dr. Anton Porsteinsson says this newly approved drug is exciting, but he remains cautious. “Then reality sets in, and that is basically the next step is how do we do this correctly.” Meaning, how do they select the right patients, and make sure they’re monitored properly.

Dr. Porsteinsson says up to 40% of those who participated in trials got ‘unusual’ side effects. “A less common side effect called micro-bleeds, these side effects are common they’re manageable but they require type monitoring.”

According to the doctor, the drug has a $56,000 price tag — a concerning for some. But for people like Joan Bakos, who’s been living with Alzheimer’s, it’s a sign of hope.

In fact – she’s even been in clinical trials for seven months, working directly with Dr. Porsteinsson and the University of Rochester. “I feel good that I’m having this and I’m not getting worse,” said Bakos.

Cheri Firlit is another local excited for her husband who suffers daily. She says it could change everything. “Do you know how much that would mean to have meaningful conversation? And not have him lost? The hardest thing is he gets frustrated too.”

Bakos and her husband, Bob, have already weighed the pros and cons and know exactly what they want. As long as insurance can help, they’re on board. “We would certainly devote our savings to continuing the treatment we’ve got nothing else to do except care for one another,” said Bob.

“It’s not something to be scared of because it’s life, it’s what you live with,” said Joan. “There’s some risk involved but there’s risk in life anyways.”

Doctors say the next steps for the drug will be figuring out insurance, then potentially a third confirmatory trial.

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