Medicare copays for new Alzheimer's drug could reach $11,500
WASHINGTON (AP) — A new $56,000-a-year Alzheimer’s drug would raise Medicare premiums broadly, and some patients who are prescribed the medication could face copayments of about $11,500 annually, according to a research report published Wednesday.
The drug, called Aduhelm, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration only this week. It's the first Alzheimer's medication in nearly 20 years, though it doesn't cure the life-sapping neurological condition. Some experts question whether Aduhelm provides any benefit to patients, but the FDA determined it can reduce harmful clumps of plaque in the brain, potentially slowing dementia.
Wednesday's analysis by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation comes as congressional Democrats are trying to build consensus around legislation that would empower Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices.
The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, said the list price for the Alzheimer's drug was “unconscionable.” Although President Joe Biden has called for granting Medicare negotiating authority, prospects for the bill are uncertain.
The Kaiser report estimated that if just 500,000 Medicare recipients are prescribed Aduhelm, it would cost the program nearly $29 billion a year, far more than any other medication.
“At this price, the cost of this one drug alone could top all others covered by Medicare, if it is used widely,” said Tricia Neuman, coauthor of the report.
Medicare has not made a formal determination on covering Aduhelm, but cost traditionally does not enter into such considerations. Drugmaker Biogen has said it priced Aduhelm responsibly.
Alzheimer's affects about 6 million Americans, the vast majority old enough to qualify for Medicare. "The approval of Aduhelm provides the latest high-profile example of the...