Controversial Alzheimer's drug administered for first time in Israel

This marks the first time that the drug has been used outside of the United States.

 Dr. Bergman, the first patient Jeremiah Kozari and Dr. Shiner. (photo credit: Jenny Yerushalmi, spokeswoman for Sourasky Medical Center)
Dr. Bergman, the first patient Jeremiah Kozari and Dr. Shiner.
(photo credit: Jenny Yerushalmi, spokeswoman for Sourasky Medical Center)

A controversial drug used to treat Alzheimer's disease was given to a patient for the first time in Israel at Sourasky Medical Center on Monday.

Aducanumab, which aims to delay brain damage caused by the disease, significantly impairs motor functioning,  was approved for use by the FDA last June.

It is the first new treatment approved for Alzheimer's since 2003, according to the FDA. This marks the first time that the drug has been used outside of the United States. However, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) rejected the drug's approval, claiming that the data they were given did not provide a clear enough link between the medication and effective treatment for early-stage Alzheimer's disease. 

The EMA's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) further noted that they questioned the safety of the drug: "Evidence from the clinical trials show that the drug can cause swelling and bleeding in the brain, which could potentially cause harm," reads a press release from Alzheimer's Research UK.  

Dr. Tamara Shiner, a neurologist developing advanced treatments for Alzheimer's disease, said she feels sympathy regarding "the difficulty of patients and their families in dealing with the loss of thinking ability and independence."

Signage is seen outside of FDA headquarters in White Oak, Maryland. (credit: REUTERS)Signage is seen outside of FDA headquarters in White Oak, Maryland. (credit: REUTERS)

Jeremiah Kozari, 57, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, is the first Israeli to receive the groundbreaking drug. "I had Alzheimer's disease at such a young age," he said. "When I was offered to start the new treatment I did not hesitate for a moment. I am still a young man with goals and dreams. I hope the new treatment can help me fulfill them."

"I hope this treatment marks the beginning of a new era in which patients with Alzheimer's disease can receive treatment that will delay cognitive decline and allow them a better quality of life over time," says Dr. Noa Bergman, Director of the Cognitive Neurology Service.