McLaren Home Infusion offers new treatment for ALS

Patient receiving Radicava infusion at homeEvery 90 minutes in the United States someone is diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), and every 90 minutes someone loses the battle against the fatal disease. ALS, also commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive neurological disease that attacks and kills nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. 

McLaren Home Infusion now offers Radicava, a new treatment for ALS, to patients in the comfort of their own homes. Radicava is an intravenous medication approved for use in May of 2017, and has been shown to decrease advancement of the disease.

No two ALS patients are alike; many have varying symptoms. Early symptoms may include limb numbness, change in vocal pitch, or difficulty grasping objects. Progressive deterioration of motor neurons in the bodies of patients with ALS results in muscle degeneration, where muscles weaken and atrophy. This results in loss of functions including walking, chewing and swallowing, and ultimately breathing. Once diagnosed with ALS, the average life expectancy is two to five years. Although there currently is not a cure for ALS, Radicava can help slow or stop loss of physical function.

"This is the first drug in more than 20 years that is effective. It is not a cure, but it decreases the advancement of the symptoms by about 30 percent. Stopping or slowing may not seem like much, but for someone with ALS, slowing the progression of symptoms is huge," shares Director of McLaren Home Infusion, Mike Lehr, RPh.

Patient discussing Radicava treatment with infusions nurseLehr states, "Radicava can be a long-term treatment so long as the patient is receptive to the drug. Patients receive Radicava treatment via intravenous (IV) infusion either through a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) or port line. Both are used for long-term treatments and the patient and family are educated how to administer the drugs. Because patients with ALS have decreased functioning and Radicava is a long-term treatment, the ability to have treatments at home is especially beneficial to patients and their families."

Describing how Radicava is administered, Lehr says "each infusion takes approximately one hour. Initially the drug is administered for 14 consecutive days, followed by two weeks of rest. Subsequent infusions are administered for 10 days within a two-week period, followed by two weeks of rest."

When it comes to paying for the treatment, insurances are covering most of the costs. There are also grants available to help patients with copays and deductibles. Medicaid will cover the cost of Radicava with a prior authorization. Patients will always be informed of their financial responsibility prior to initiation of treatment.

The cause of ALS is currently unknown and there is no cure. Lehr explains that most patients with ALS are young, with the median age of onset being 55 years of age. No one at that age wants to give up hope or treatment; Radicava provides patients with ALS the opportunity to slow advancement of the progressive neurodegenerative disease. 

For more information on Radicava or questions regarding McLaren Home Infusion, speak with your primary care physician or contact (800) 774-6999.