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That Blockbuster Alzheimer’s Drug? It’s Not a Cure

Signage is displayed on the exterior of Biogen Inc. headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 5, 2016. Japan’s Eisai Co. said that an Alzheimer’s drug it is developing with Massachusetts-based Biogen Inc. will enter late-stage trials after getting the green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg)
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Biogen Inc. and Eisai Co. caused a stir in September when they announced positive results in a late-stage trial for a closely watched Alzheimer’s drug, lecanemab. Doctors tempered their excitement, though, until they could scrutinize the full peer-reviewed data.

That data arrived Tuesday night. And while it is stoking enthusiasm that physicians might soon be able to offer patients a treatment that can slow the progression of the devastating disease, doctors need to carefully balance that optimism with safety concerns and the reality that the drug is far from a cure — and in fact, it’s hard to quantify how meaningful it might be for a given patient.