The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug. This latest application comes 20 years after the last time an Alzheimer’s drug sought approval. As a result, the market cheered on the new drug and sent Biogen’s stock surging more than 38%.
Aduhelm Is The New Alzheimer’s Drug
Biogen’s newly-approved therapy carries the molecular name aducanumab. In addition, the company will market the drug as Aduhelm. Biogen spent billions in development and will finally realize the fruits of its labor. It hopes to do what previous Alzheimer’s drugs can’t: slow down the failing memory of patients.
Meanwhile, the FDA explained its approval for Aduhelm. The agency said that the drug reduces amyloids in the brain. These amyloids are sticky substances that cover brain cells. Both the FDA and Biogen agree that a reduction in amyloids can provide relief for sufferers.
Aduhelm’s Limited Impact
Aduhelm’s approval brings potential hope to millions of people suffering from Alzheimer’s, especially given the lack of options. However, many experts are still warning against expecting too much from the drug.
In fact, some doctors say the drug’s efficacy remains limited and recommended against its approval. Meanwhile, other doctors say that the drug can’t help all patients, especially those already in advanced stages of the disease.
In addition, patients should expect out-of-pocket expenses when availing of the drug. Health insurer Cigna estimates treatment can require $10,000 co-pays annually.
Despite the issues, the drug Aduhelm remains a potential blockbuster. Biogen is currently struggling as it experiences declining sales for its drugs.
In addition, it is about to lose its patent protection for its bestseller, Tecfidera. This is a pill used to treat multiple sclerosis. The company expects modest sales during their Alzheimer’s drug launch year but will pick up as it gains recognition.
FactSet places estimates at sales of $62.7 million in 2021, $603.2 million in 2022, and $1.6 billion by 2023.
$56,000 Treatment Per Year Patient
Meanwhile, Biogen Chief Executive Michel Vounatsos hailed the FDA approval. “This historic moment is the culmination of more than a decade of groundbreaking research in the complex field of Alzheimer’s disease.
Together with the healthcare community, we are ready to bring this new medicine to patients and begin to address this growing global health crisis.”
Biogen is initially placing the price of treatment at $56,000 a year per patient. The price range can take many patients off the market due to affordability issues.
However, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, a nonprofit research and advisory group, said the drug can remain cost-effective at a per-patient price of $2,500 to $8,300 a year.
6 Million Americans Suffer From Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is a progressive degenerative disease that affects mainly the elderly. Among its devastating side effects is that it slowly erases people of their memory, including the ability to care for themselves.
In the US, 6 million suffer from Alzheimer’s, with 1.4 million eligible to take Adulhelm. In 2019, around 121,500 Americans died from Alzheimer’s, which is 54% higher than numbers a decade ago.
Watch the Bloomberg Markets and FInance video report that the FDA gave the green light to Biogen's Alzheimer’s drug:
Do you have a loved one who has Alzheimer’s? Will you get an Aduhelm prescription for your loved one? Also, At $56,000 per annum, do you find the cost of an Alzheimer’s drug prohibitive?
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