Aducanumab is a prescription drug that is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. It is also sold under the name Aduhelm and was approved by the FDA in June 2021. It is the first prescription drug that not only is effective in treating Alzheimer’s but also decreases the rate of progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms. But the unconventional approval from FDA has left people asking questions such as are there any Aducanumab side effects? Is it safe for every Alzheimer’s patient? This is because the approval was made by opposing the recommendations given by the advisory committee.
If you are one who is still confused about Aducanumab and want to have a clear understanding of Aducanumab side effects, then you should read this.
What are Aducanumab and Aducanumab side effects?
Aducanumab is a therapy consisting of antibodies that aims to target beta protein containing amyloid. In Alzheimer’s, this amyloid beta protein accumulates in the brain in the form of clumps. According to studies, these clumps are the reason for the instant death of the patient as these clumps damage the brain cells causing the brain to stop working. These are the symptoms that gradually take place in a patient’s body in Alzheimer’s diseases like dementia.
The first Alzheimer’s gene was discovered in 1991 by the leading Professor John Hardy. He presented strong evidence about beta protein amyloid clumps which is the main factor that affect the brain cells and help develop Alzheimer’s.
These findings by John Hardy have influenced the research carried out on Alzheimer’s disease. This is why over 30% of the advanced treatments including Aducanumab aim to prevent Alzheimer’s from penetrating into cells and triggering the disease.
Identified Aducanumab side effects
The main Aducanumab side effects reported after the clinical trials are Amyloid Related to Imaging Abnormalities (ARIA). These proteins were initially assumed to be swelling in the brain cells or micro-bleeding and were reported in other amyloid trials. These were supposed to have resulted after high-dose treatment.
ARIA patients have shown moderate symptoms of Alzheimer’s by depicting headaches, dizziness, and nausea while on Aducanumab. This illustrates the importance of monitoring patients that are undergoing Aducanumab treatment.
Common Aducanumab side effects include:
- Continuous changes in mental state
- Gait disturbance
Serious Aducanumab side effects include:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Visionary changes
- Swelling on the face, eyes, lips, throat, and tongue
You must seek medical help if you see these severe side effects of Aducanumab;
- Slurred speech, confusion, severe headache, leg or arm weakness, loss of coordination, trouble waking, stiff muscles, difficulty in focusing, profuse sweating, high fever, or tremors;
- Serious heart rate issues such as pounding heartbeats with fast and irregular intervals, sudden dizziness, shortness of breath, fluttering in the chest, passing out feeling, or lightheartedness.
- Vision abnormalities like blurred vision, sudden vision loss, swelling or eye pain, tunnel vision, and viewing halos around lights.
This is not a complete list of side effects, there may be many other severe side effects and health issues that may arise because of this drug usage. You must call your doctor for any kind of adverse reaction that you begin to feel after taking Aducanumab. In addition, you can also contact the FDA and report fluctuations in your health issues to 1-800-FDA-1088.
How to take Aducanumab?
Aducanumab is given through injections to adults with a dosage of 100mg/ml (1.7-ml, 3-ml single-dose vials).
Dosage of Alzheimer’s disease for adults;
- Infusions 1-2: 1 mg/kg IV every 4 weeks
- Administered as an IV infusion every 4 weeks and at least 21 days apart
- Infusions 3-4: 3 mg/kg IV every 4 weeks
- Infusion 7 and beyond: 10 mg/kg IV every 4 weeks
- Infusions 5-6: 6 mg/kg IV every 4 weeks
Other prescriptions that interact with Aducanumab
In case your doctor is prescribing you Aducanumab as a pain reliever, the pharmacists and the doctor himself must be aware of the other medications that interact with Aducanumab and would be watching out for them. It is recommended not to change, stop, or take any other medication that is not prescribed with Aducanumab before asking your doctor, pharmacist, or healthcare provider.
You must check the RxList Drug Interaction Checker in order to check any type of drug interaction. Keep the list of all the drugs you take along with you when you visit your doctor or refill your stock on visiting a pharmacy. Keep a healthy check on your health and symptoms of a drug. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the possible interactions.
Warnings and precautions for Aducanumab
While someone is on Aducanumab, there might be no contradictions or drug abuse symptoms but there may be some Aducanumab side effects depending on the condition. Some of these Aducanumab side effects can be both short-term and long-term. You can see the above section of Aducanumab side effects to know them better.
Urticaria and Angioedema reportedly take part in discontinuing infusion once the consistent symptoms are observed with a hypersensitive reaction. Also, initiating and applying appropriate therapies can also help in dealing with adverse side effects.
ARIA – Amyloid- related imaging abnormalities
- The use of Aducanumab may cause ARIA-E. It can be observed as brain edema, ARIA-H, and sulcal effusion on MRI, which consists of superficial siderosis, and microhemorrhage.
- ARIA is commonly presented as temporary swelling in some parts of the brain which usually dissolves over time. Whereas, other symptoms include vision changes, dizziness, headache, confusion, and nausea.
- The majority of ARIA symptoms were observed in the first 8 doses of Aducanumab. This may be particularly during titration of the subject. This is why enhanced medical vigilance is required.
- For ARIA-E and mild or moderate symptoms of ARIA-H, the treatment would be continued.
- If for whatever reasons, the dosage is suspended temporarily, it should be resumed with the same dose and the levels of titration as prescribed.
- There’s no data that shows the need for continued dosing after radiographically severe or moderate ARIA.
- No matter what you feel, refer to the prescribed information and prescription for ARIA MRI classification.
Pregnancy and lactation during Aducanumab
With a range of Aducanumab side effects, if someone is pregnant or breastfeeding, they might be wondering if the disease can penetrate through them to their child(ren). However, studies don’t show any information that would contain the reports affecting pregnant females.
Fortunately, no adequate data is there to evaluate the risks of drug-associated major defects such as miscarriages, birth defects, or any other fatal abnormalities to the birth child.
Besides, no data is found that shows side effects of Aducanumab in human milk, affecting infants through breastfeeding or if the milk production was affected.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is Aducanumab?
Aducanumab is a prescription medicine that is used to treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Aducanumab is also used for various purposes that are not listed in any medical guide.
2. What are some Aducanumab side effects?
By using Aducanumab, you may experience bleeding and swelling in the different parts of the brain but they get clear gradually with time. You must contact your doctor if you experience blurred vision, confusion, dizziness, or nausea. This may not begin with serious effects but can get severe with time.
3. What to be sure of before taking Aducanumab?
The temporary swelling and bleeding from the brain are called ARIA. Before you are prescribed Aducanumab, your doctor would preferably perform an MRI. It is also suggested to tell your doctor if you breastfeed or are pregnant.
4. How is Aducanumab given?
A health care provider will inject Aducanumab gradually for an hour. Aducanumab prescription is usually for 4 weeks and 21 days apart. Every time Aducanumab is given to a patient, depending on the condition, they may go through MRI.
5. What to expect if you miss an Aducanumab dose?
Ask your doctor about continuing the dose where you have left it.
6. What to expect if you are overdosing?
An overdose of Aducanumab prescription or Aducanumab abuse should be treated at once.
7. What should you avoid when you are on an Aducanumab dose?
It depends on your health. For a safe commute and life, ask your doctor to provide the required information if you need to abstain from any beverages, liquids, foods, and even activity.
8. Some other Aducanumab side effects
Get emergency help if you see signs and symptoms of allergic reactions, face allergies, swelling of lip, throat, face, or tongue, or difficulty in breathing.
If you already experience trouble breathing due to any other allergic disease such as asthma, then tell your doctor before Aducanumab is injected into your veins.
Aducanumab is a prescription medication that should be taken after a thorough medical checkup. Inform your doctor about Aducanumab side effects so he can help you feel better.