A Review of Scientific Ethics Issues Associated with the Recently Approved Drugs for Alzheimer’s Disease [Book Review]

Science and Engineering Ethics 29 (1):1-18 (2023)
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Abstract

Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the devastating and most prevailing underlying cause for age-associated dementia, has no effective disease-modifying treatment. The last approved drug for the relief of AD symptoms was in 2003. The recent approval of sodium oligomannate (GV-971, 2019) in China and the human antibody aducanumab in the USA (ADUHELM, 2021) therefore represent significant breakthroughs, albeit ones that are fraught with controversy. Here, we explore potential scientific ethics issues associated with GV-971 and aducanumab’s development and approval. While these issues may be belied by socioeconomic and political complexities in the heady business of commercial drug development, they are of fundamental importance to scientific integrity and ultimately, welfare of patients. We posit that the push for approval of both AD drugs based on incomplete research and unconvincing marginal effectiveness is ethically unsound. Regardless of how both these drugs shall perform in the market for the years to come, the scientific ethics issues and potentially questionable research practices should therefore be duly noted and lessons learned.

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