How does the FDA approval of lecanemab (Leqembi) for Alzheimer’s disease affect patients and families in the Rio Grande Valley?

By: R. Alejandro Cruz, MD
Neurology Medical Director
DHR Health Neurology Institute  

Last week, DHR Health proudly announced that it is the first hospital south of San Antonio to successfully administer lecanemab, commonly referred to as “Leqembi,” an FDA-approved medication for the early treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. This achievement marks a groundbreaking advancement in healthcare for the Rio Grande Valley. 

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects patients’ cognitive abilities. It is a chronic, progressive, disabling, and in some cases fatal disease, as it is the sixth leading cause of death in seniors. Until recently, our only option to help patients affected by AD was to try to mitigate the symptoms, as there was not a disease-modifying therapy that could help slow down the progression of this devastating disease. 

In January of 2023, the FDA approved Leqembi to be used in the treatment of patients with mild cognitive impairment secondary to AD. Leqembi is an infusion that is given every two weeks, and it works by removing amyloid proteins from the brain that accumulate in patients with AD. In studies, Leqembi showed a slowing of functional decline by 37%. It is important to underscore that this new therapy is only suited for patients who have the earliest stage of AD in order to obtain the best results and avoid potential adverse effects. 

We are proud to announce that our team at DHR Health, which included the neuroscience, infusion, pharmacy, radiology, laboratory, and leadership departments, worked very hard to be able to bring this new therapy to the Rio Grande Valley. At DHR Health, we are now able to provide the necessary testing to confirm Alzheimer’s disease as well as to offer Leqembi to our patients. Importantly, our team of neurologists, radiologists, and infusion nurses are trained in all the pertinent protocols to administer and monitor all patients receiving this treatment. 

The availability of providing Leqembi in the Rio Grande Valley marks a new era of hope for the patients and families of our community who are or will be impacted by this devastating disease. 

To learn more about this groundbreaking treatment or to make an appointment, please contact the DHR Health Neuroscience Institute at (956) 362-8500.