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Mid Michigan Alzheimer’s patient hopeful, optimistic about new FDA approved drug Aduhelm

Bill McKay of Haslett, Michigan speaks with ABC12's Mark Bullion during a Monday morning...
Bill McKay of Haslett, Michigan speaks with ABC12's Mark Bullion during a Monday morning interview at Memorial Healthcare in Owosso.(WJRT)
Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 5:29 PM EDT
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OWOSSO, Mich. (WJRT) - Bill Mckay of Haslett, Michigan is feeling optimistic.

After receiving an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis last year, and the FDA recently approving Aduhelm, which helps slow the progression of the disease -- he is eager to start treatment at Memorial Healthcare in Owosso.

”I can’t say it was a real surprise. I recognized some of the symptoms,” Mckay said.

And so did Bill’s wife Jill before he was diagnosed.

“Bill’s got the kind of mind where he can look at anything and pretty much figure out how it works. He is not as competent with more complex tasks like that as he used to be,” Jill said.

His first symptom was subtle memory loss -- enough to where it impacted his work in a laboratory and was asked to leave his job.

But bill is holding onto hope with Aduhelm, which is administered intravenously monthly.

His treatment is likely to begin soon at Memorial Healthcare.

“My hope is that I can return to the point where I have the same outlook and I can think clearly,” he said.

Dr. Rany Aburashed is the chief of Neurology at Memorial Healthcare’s Institute for Neurosciences.

“Our approach to this medication, given that there are some safety risks -- is you have to have a very accurate diagnosis and what I mean by that is we’re looking for biomarker evidence of amyloid beta plaques,” Dr. Rany said.

Amyloid Beta plaques are proteins that are believed to accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients that interfere with cognition and memory.

But that’s where Aduhelm comes into play.

“The idea is if you can treat patients with this drug very early in their disease course -- might you decrease the amount of that protein build up and potentially affect their cognition long term,” he said.

But Aduhem is not cheap. Without insurance, the medication will cost $56,000/year.

That comes out to around $4,300 per monthly treatment.

Dr. Rany says it’s simply too early to tell just how the new drug will work -- but like Bill and Jill -- he’s optimistic as well.

“This is not a cure for dementia. It is not going to stop every case. However, In the right case this might make a difference,” Dr. Rany

“It’s an awful disease. It takes ya a little at a time,” Bill said.

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