Controversial Alzheimer’s drug could cost US $334B—nearly half of DoD budget

Enlarge / Pedestrians walk past Biogen Inc. headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Monday, June 7, 2021. Biogen Inc. shares soared after its controversial Alzheimer’s disease therapy was approved by US regulators. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

Concern is mounting over the price of the controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm. Advocates, lawmakers, and critics worry in particular about what the drug’s $56,000 per-year list price will do to Medicare. The federal insurance program is available to those age 65 and over, which covers the vast majority of the roughly 6 million adults with Alzheimer’s in the US.

As it stands, the cost of Aduhlem—a doctor-administered intravenous drug—has the potential to eclipse the amount of money Medicare spends on all other doctor-administered drugs and retail prescription drugs combined.

The Food and Drug Administration granted approval of Aduhelm earlier this month, sparking widespread and intense criticism. Experts and industry watchers have called the decision “disgraceful” and “dangerous,” noting that clinical trials of Aduhelm did not clearly show that the drug is actually effective at treating Alzheimer’s. The fact that Aduhelm’s maker, Biogen, set the list price so high only intensified the criticism.

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