If you haven’t already heard, Biogen Inc. headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts has broken the nearly two decades old barrier to treat Alzheimer’s with their new drug, Aduhelm. Seriously exciting news for our Silver Sagers. Aduhelm attacks the beta-amyloid clumps that form in the brain of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Although initial testing trials showed marginal results, the thinking may be that any help is better than nothing in slowing the progression of cognitive decline for individuals.
The retail price tag of the monthly intravenous infusions without insurance coverage could cost a hefty $57,000 per year; however, most folks with insurance (Medicare) will only pay a fraction of that fee (approximately 20% or $11,400/year). Personally speaking, the cost benefit analysis is clear for those who can afford it. But what about those folks who can’t? The federal government subsidized the COVID vaccine. Perhaps our new administration will see the great benefit to society and families by helping to subsidize the cost of Aduhelm as well?
The FDA approval is conditional. This means that Biogen must undergo more testing and clinical trials before reaching final FDA approval. Why the conditional approval? Well, there are some serious side effects to Aduhelm and the results were meh at best. Over the course of two clinical trials, 40% of patients who received Aduhelm developed painful brain swelling including symptoms of headaches, dizziness, visual disturbances, nausea, and vomiting. Moreover nearly 18% of patients had microhemorrhages, or small bleeds in their brain. The drug has been controversial after earlier trials in 2019 were unsuccessful.
What does this mean for Biogen Inc.? Well their stock surged 38% overnight. By this morning, it has dropped nearly 2% in market corrections and most likely fear that the final clinical trials will derail the positive results of the initial conditional approval.
In the meantime, let’s keep our fingers crossed. It may be too late for my mom, but maybe not for you or yours.
Photo credit by Robina Weermeijer @averey