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WASHINGTON: The US Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a highly anticipated new drug designed to slow cognitive decline in Alzheimer's patients.

The FDA approval of the drug, Leqembi, also known as lecanemab, came just days after the agency was harshly criticized in a congressional report for its green-lighting of another Alzheimer's drug, Aduhelm.

Preliminary data from a trial of Leqembi was released in September and found it slowed cognitive decline in Alzheimer's patients by 27 per cent across an 18-month period.

Leqembi and Aduhelm "represent an important advancement in the ongoing fight to effectively treat Alzheimer's disease," the FDA said in a statement.

Both drugs were approved by the FDA through an accelerated process that allows the US regulatory agency to fast-track approval of drugs for serious conditions where there is an unmet medical need.