Biogen cuts price of Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm

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Biogen cuts price of Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts - Biogen has slashed the price of its Alzheimer's treatment in half months, after it debuted to widespread criticism for an initial cost that could reach US $56,000 annually.

The drugmaker said on Tuesday that it will reduce the wholesale acquisition cost of the drug by about 50 per cent next month. The annual cost for a person of average weight will be $28,200.

The actual amount a person would pay will depend on factors like insurance coverage.

Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos said in a prepared statement that too many patients were not being offered the drug due to financial considerations, and their disease had progressed beyond the point where Aduhelm could help.

Aduhelm is the first in a line of new drugs that promise to do what no other Alzheimer s treatment has done: slow the progress of the fatal brain-destroying disease rather than manage its symptoms.

The drug received FDA approval in June, and the agency later said it was appropriate for patients with mild symptoms or early stage Alzheimer s.

Concerns over the price and research behind the drug have slowed Aduhelm's debut. Some insurers have balked at paying for the drug, while medical centers across the country have been either slow to decide on using the drug or don't plan to prescribe it for now.

Doctors said concerns over the price were compounded by the cost patients would have to face for regular testing and scans needed to monitor their progress on Aduhelm.

In June Biogen stated that it would not raise its price on the drug for four years, and the company often touted its financial assistance programs for patients.

Brian Abrahams, RBC Capital Markets analyst, said he was not surprised by Biogen's price cut. He said that the move was probably necessary and should give Aduhelm the best chance of success. The initial price was a factor in the planned premium hikes for Medicare, the federal government's coverage program for people ages 65 and older and disabled.

In the month of May, Medicare announced one of the largest increases in its Part B monthly premium for outpatient care. It said it would raise the premium by nearly US $22, from US $148.50 currently to US $170.10 in January.

The agency said about half of the hike was due to the need for a contingency fund to cover Aduhelm. Medicare is expected to be one of the main payers for the drug.

Aduhelm clears brain plaque thought to play a role in Alzheimer's disease, and US regulators gave their approval based on study results showing the drug seemed likely to benefit patients. They asked for more research.

Biogen, which developed Aduhelm with Japan's Eisai, said last week that the company expects to screen the first patients for their next study in May. The researchers expect to complete the research about four years after the study begins, as they hope to enroll about 1,300 people with early-stage Alzheimer s.

Concerns about the research behind the drug was a main reason the European Medicines Agency refused Aduhelm's marketing authorization last week.

Biogen said in October that Aduhelm had brought in only US $300,000 in sales during its first full quarter. The company attributed the figure to drug wholesalers drawing down inventory they had purchased the previous quarter.

Biogen is expected to have around $500 million in annual savings, most of which will be realized next year, because of some cost-cutting measures that are expected to yield some cost-cutting measures that are expected to yield around US $500 million in annual savings. The company said it was cutting costs because of the slow debut of Aduhem, which was affecting its revenue.