You may remember the ice bucket challenge from a few years ago. The goal of the challenge was to pour and ice cold bucket of water over your head in an effort to promote and raise awareness about a then little known disease affecting over five thousand Americans each year. The disease is called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, after a baseball hall of fame player who was diagnosed with it in the nineteen thirties.
Now, that the hype of the challenge has faded, there is yet again another bit of news that fortunately brings ALS to the spotlight.
For the last 22 years, the only available drug for treating ALS has been Riluzole which was approved by the American Food and Drug Administration in 1995. Riluzole doesn’t cure ALS but it slows down its progress. This year however, a new drug has been approved by the FDA which should come at a great time for hopeless sufferers of the disease in the United States.
The new drug is called Edaravone and has been created in Japan by the Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharmaceutical corporation and has actually already been in use there for 3 years already.
The new drug is also not quite a cure, it will also slow down the disease notably. But that’s not the catch of this news story. The problem with this new drug is that it will be extremely costly for the regular consumers. The treatment with Edaravone requires a daily one hour infusion for two weeks straight and then another 14 days of infusions following a two week break and so on. The only issue: one infusion will cost exactly 1086$ US, putting the total yearly cost for a given patient at 145,524$ US.
Despite the ridiculous price, Edaravone’s effects will not be immediately noticeable according to clinical trials. The treatment will not improve symptoms at all, it will just slow down the progress of the degeneration. According to many health professionals, this still won’t be enough to dissuade the thousands of american patients from taking this new drug as they have been desperate for an alternative for over 20 years.