CMS continues to restrict coverage of amyloid-targeting antibodies for Alzheimer’s

[Image courtesy of CMS]

CMS has denied the Alzheimer’s Association’s request asking for broader reimbursement support for FDA-approved monoclonal antibodies targeting amyloid.

In April 2022, CMS decided to limit coverage of such antibodies for Alzheimer’s to clinical trial volunteers. At that time, aducanumab from Biogen (Nasdaq: BIIB) and Eisai (TYO:4523) was the only FDA-approved antibody for the neurodegenerative condition.

CMS noted in an announcement that its latest decision rests on the current lack of evidence that amyloid-targeting antibodies are effective against Alzheimer’s.

Amyloid-targeting antibodies intend to treat Alzheimer’s by targeting and removing amyloid beta, a protein that accumulates in Alzheimer’s patients’ brains. The protein deposits eventually result in plaques that interfere with normal brain function.

Alzheimer’s organ…
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Nine out of ten U.S. neurologists have Aduhelm efficacy doubts

A recent physician survey found that 89% of neurologists in the U.S. have concerns about the efficacy of the controversial Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm (aducanumab) from Biogen (Nasdaq:BIIB) and Eisai Co. (TYO:4523). Nearly as many — 87% — were concerned about the drug’s safety profile.

The survey from the physician social media network Sermo (New York City) asked more than 50 neurologists about their view of the drug, which has failed to find widespread use, generating just $3 million in 2021. Only 11% of the neurologists surveyed reported prescribing the drug.

Despite low uptake, many patients are aware of the drug. A total of 62% of the surveyed neurologists reported that at least one patient had asked them about Aduhelm.

The drug has faced an array of challenges since it was FDA-approved in June 2021. Recently, Medicare decided to limit Aduhelm’s coverage of the drug to clinical trial participants, and other payers, including the Department of Veteran Af…

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VA shies away from Biogen’s Aduhelm

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will not include Biogen’s (NSDQ:BIIB) and Eisai’s (TYO:4523) controversial Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm (aducanumab) in its drug formulary, citing what it deemed to be unclear efficacy paired with a significant risk of adverse events. 

The department’s pharmacy benefit manager advised against providing the drug given “the lack of evidence of a robust and meaningful clinical benefit and the known safety signal,” according to Endpoints News. 

The VA also added Aduhelm to its non-promotable list, which forbids pharmaceutical sales reps from promoting the drug to the VA. 

The list price for Aduhelm is approximately $56,000 annually. 

The VA, however, included aducanumab in the ‘Place in Therapy’ section of its national drug monograph, which provides an assessment of the drug’s clinical evidence. The document concluded that the VA “recommend[s] against offering this agent to patients with Alzheimer’s dementia (mild o…

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Biogen moves forward with aducanumab launch plans 

Biogen’s (NSDQ:BIIB) Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab seemed to be a potential blockbuster until an FDA advisory committee voiced skepticism in November about the drug.

FDA reviewers had previously assessed the drug’s prospects more positively.

The company is preparing for the event of an FDA approval of the drug in June.

Biogen’s CEO Michel Vounatsos said in an analyst call today that he expects the antibody drug to sell well given the surging numbers of Alzheimer’s patients in the U.S. and elsewhere. “We anticipate if approved, there will be a large influx of patients,” Vounatsos concluded.

The company has argued that aducanumab slows disease progression in Alzheimer’s patients, which is a feat that no other FDA-approved drug can manage. But critics have argued that the company has failed to demonstrate that the drug is effective and have expressed concern over the drug’s potential to cause amyloi…

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