TAMPA. Fla. — The Alzheimer’s drug Lecanemab, marketed as Leqembi, was granted full approval by the FDA in July.

Medicare followed suit with approval soon after but still, access is limited. The Alzheimer’s Association is now pushing more health care centers across the state to make it available.

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“We need better access from a health equity standpoint,” said Deann Marasco, the organization’s State Director for Health Systems. “It can’t just be in large urban areas.”

Marasco said progress is being made, with more health care providers joining the list of providers offering the treatment every month. 

Gene Anderson was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2020. The former Air Force fighter pilot is part of a trial being run at USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute.

“I do this every other week and it’s been for three years,” Anderson said. 

Anderson and his wife moved to Tampa from the Panhandle just to be close to a treatment center. Before their move, they had to drive hours to participate in the trial. 

Anderson is now in the second phase of the trial, so he now knows for sure he is getting Lecanemab. He is hopeful it will help stave off the disease and give him more time with his family.

“To just have a longer life. That’s really what it is,” Anderson said.

Studies show Lecanemab, a monoclonal antibody, can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in the very early stages by reducing the build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain.