Aducanumab FAQ

At Northwestern Medicine, our patients are our top concern. Know that we closely study each medication before we recommend it for you. We look at its benefits and risks. At this time, we are not offering aducanumab to our patients. This medication is not available at Northwestern Medicine.

We are continuing to study aducanumab. We will update this page as we learn more. Please check back regularly.

What is aducanumab?

Aducanumab is a medication designed to remove plaques from the brain that may cause Alzheimer’s disease. It is marketed by Biogen as Aduhelm. It is the first FDA-approved treatment that aims to delay cognitive decline from Alzheimer’s. Although, this benefit has not yet been proven. It is the first new treatment approved for the disease since 2003. Aducanumab does not reverse existing disease nor stop its progression.

What do I need to know about the FDA’s approval of aducanumab?

Aducanumab was approved using the FDA’s accelerated approval pathway. This can be used for “a drug for a serious or life-threatening illness that provides a meaningful therapeutic advantage over existing treatments.” With this faster approval comes a post-approval trial to confirm that the medication provides the expected benefit.

Aducanumab was approved based on the results from two clinical trials. The first trial showed no clinical impact. The second trial showed similar results. Biogen then accessed and submitted more information. It showed that the second trial had reduced progression of the disease by 22% in comparison to the placebo. At first, the FDA Advisory Committee did not recommend approval based on this evidence. Then, on June 7, 2021, they approved it based on the theory that removal of plaque from the brain should slow disease progression. Still, this has not yet been proven.

How is it given?

Patients receive aducanumab via a monthly infusion. Each lasts about 1 hour.

What are the side effects?

Side effects can include brain swelling and small brain bleeds. Some patients have also reported headaches, falls, diarrhea and confusion.

Can I receive aducanumab?

Aducanumab is indicated for patients with mild and early forms of Alzheimer’s disease who have brain plaques by lumbar puncture of PET scans. Clinicians will prescribe the medication in alignment with strict guidelines. Only specialized clinics will carry this medication.

To learn more, visit the Northwestern Medicine Neurobehavior and Memory Clinic’s website. Talk with your physician about aducanumab. They will let you know if you are eligible for the medication. They can also explore other treatment options with you.