New Promising Alzheimer’s Treatments May Not be as Effective for Black and Hispanic Sufferers
Leqembi and donanemab, two experimental drugs developed by Eli Lilly, have shown potential in slowing down the effects of Alzheimer’s disease by specifically targeting and attacking toxic plaques in the brain. However, recent findings suggest that these treatments may not be equally effective for minority groups, particularly black and Hispanic individuals.
Experts have revealed that clinical testing for these medications often excluded older black Americans and Hispanics, despite the fact that these groups have higher rates of dementia compared to white people. The exclusion of these individuals is believed to be due to the low levels of amyloid – a protein associated with Alzheimer’s – in their brains, which disqualified them from participation in the trials.
Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai, the developer of Leqembi, is now investigating why a higher percentage of black volunteers did not meet the amyloid threshold requirements for the trial when compared to white volunteers. Out of the 947 individuals enrolled in the US portion of the trial, only 4.5% were black and 22.5% were Hispanic, indicating a significant underrepresentation of these minority groups.
It is important to note that these drugs were not specifically designed to address the needs of specific ethnic groups or races. As a result, the exclusion of black and Hispanic participants from the trials raises concerns about the effectiveness and accessibility of these potential treatments for individuals from diverse backgrounds.
This issue is not limited to Eli Lilly’s medications alone. Black and Hispanic participants were also excluded at higher rates during testing for Eli Lilly’s donanemab, another drug under development for Alzheimer’s treatment. A spokesperson for Lilly suggested that the dementia experienced by these excluded participants may not be caused by Alzheimer’s or could be complicated by other factors.
The statistics regarding Alzheimer’s prevalence among older black Americans are alarming. They are twice as likely as older white individuals to have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Currently, an estimated 6.7 million Americans aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s, and among black Americans aged 70 and older, 21.3% are affected by the disease.
These findings highlight the urgent need for more inclusive clinical trials and research efforts to ensure that potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease are tested and proven effective in diverse populations. The disparity in representation among racial and ethnic groups emphasizes the importance of addressing healthcare inequalities and providing equal access to promising therapies for all individuals affected by Alzheimer’s.
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