Vermonter with Alzheimer’s praises newly FDA-approved drug

Vermont News

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WFFF) — One Vermont family has some insight on the newly FDA-approved Alzheimer’s drug. Tom Sullivan has been taking it for years after participating in a trial at Yale back in 2016, the same year he was diagnosed. 

On Monday, the FDA approved Biogen’s drug, called Aducanumab or Aduhelm, to treat the disease, which primarily affects memory. “The minute I was diagnosed, I never felt that different in a lot of ways,” Tom Sullivan said. 

“We’re so grateful that Tom is at that steady label because of the Aducanumab. Because that is a long time where there could’ve been a good deal of deterioration, and there wasn’t” said Kate Sullivan, Tom’s spouse.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than six million Americans live with the disease, and 66% of those people are women. “Women tend to be more susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. John Steele Taylor, a neurologist at UVM Medical Center said. “Maybe there is some sort of aging survival bias built in there.”

Dr. Taylor said the study that Tom Sullivan is enrolled in shows that the new drug does not reverse mental decline, but can slow it. “The Aducanumab is purported to modify the underlying disease,” Dr. Taylor said.

Jim Wessler, the Regional Leader for the Alzheimer’s Association for all of New England, said there are about 13,000 people in Vermont with Alzheimer’s disease. “Just in the next five years, that will increase to 17,000,” Wessler said. “That was assuming we had no disease-modifying treatments. So perhaps we will start bending that curve.”

The Sullivans are filled with joy knowing Tom is seeing positive results. “If Tom wasn’t on the medication, he might not even recognize those kids, me, our son, or grandchildren,” Kate said. 

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