There are about 5.8 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that begins with mild memory loss and progresses until a patient cannot respond to his or her environment. As the most common form of dementia, much research goes into treatment options.
Most treatments improve a person’s quality of life but do not cure the disease. However, Biogen’s Alzheimer drug Aduhelm boasted its ability to target the cause of the disease. The problem with the drug is in its controversy.
Why is Aduhelm controversial?
There are a couple of reasons why Aduhelm has a controversial reputation. The first reason is that physicians cannot agree on the data. They do not all believe the clinical trial proves the effectiveness of the monoclonal antibody slowing cognitive decline. Given the uncertainty about the underlying cause or causes of Alzheimer’s, to say a drug treats the underlying cause does not sit well with many doctors.
The company initially charged about $56,000 as an annual list price. Despite the price, the drug never met Wallstreet’s expectations. It reports only a tiny percentage of estimated sales.
How can patients receive Aduhelm?
The price point makes it difficult for most patients to receive the treatment. However, Biogen does plan to cut the price in half. With the price cut in half by 50%, more patients can use the drug. Biogen expects 50,000 new patients may begin using Aduhelm in 2022. Unfortunately, Medicare only pays for the drug if the patient enrolls in a clinical trial.
Alzheimer’s patients who may benefit from the drug must be in the early stages of the disease.