Biogen CEO: 'Major bottleneck' still limits Alzheimer's drug

Biogen CEO: 'Major bottleneck' still limits Alzheimer's drug


A new Alzheimer’s drug from Biogen brought in only $300,000 in sales during its first full quarter on the market, continuing a slow debut complicated by coverage questions and concerns from doctors.

The infused drug, hailed as a potential breakthrough treatment for a fatal disease, has encountered a health care system that “remains a major bottleneck” in keeping the treatment from patients, CEO Michel Vounatsos said Wednesday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug, named Aduhelm, in June and later said it was appropriate for patients with mild symptoms or early-stage Alzheimer’s.

Aduhelm clears brain plaque thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, and regulators made their call based on study results showing the drug seemed likely to benefit patients. But they’ve also asked for more research.

Questions about the scientific studies behind Aduhelm and how patients will pay for a drug that can cost more than $50,000 annually have made some care providers cautious.

Several major medical centers have yet to decide whether they will use Aduhelm, which represents the first new Alzheimer’s treatment in more than 20 years.

Vounatsos said Wednesday during a call to discuss the company’s third quarter that Biogen is “working to improve the community’s understanding of our clinical data.”

“We continue to believe in Aduhelm’s long-term potential,” he said.

An analyst asked if Biogen leaders have thought about changing the drug’s price. The CEO said that while “fine tuning” the price is always an option, that has not come up as a primary concern in market research.

Biogen, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, also emphasizes that it has financial assistance programs for patients who struggle to afford...

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