Small Solace

An FDA panel votes yes on the first drug to treat Alzheimer's disease

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GOOD TERMINAL ILLness, but people who know Alzheimer's disease consider it one of the worst. Its slow and agonizing course leads inexorably from memory lapses to personality changes to utter loss of intellectual functions to certain death. The emotional toll on the estimated 4 million Americans who suffer from the disease and on their families is incalculable; the bills for nursing care are enormous.

That is why the advice of a Food and Drug Administration panel is being widely hailed. The committee urged the FDA to approve a new drug, tacrine, as the first...

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