The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

New Alzheimer’s drug finds questions, skepticism

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The first new Alzheimer’s treatment in more than 20 years was hailed as a breakthrou­gh when regulators approved it more than four months ago, but its rollout has been slowed by questions about its price and how well it works.

Several major medical centers remain undecided on whether to use Biogen’s Aduhelm, which is recommende­d for early stages of the disease. Big names like the Cleveland Clinic and Mass General Brigham in Boston say they’ll pass on it for now.

One neurology practice has even banned the company’s sales reps from its offices, citing concerns about the drug and its price, which can climb past $50,000 annually.

Many doctors say they need to learn more about how Aduhelm works and what will be covered before they decide whether to offer it. That might take several months to sort out. Even then, questions may linger.

“The drug won’t be for everybody, even with access,” said Salim Syed, an analyst who covers Biogen for Mizuho Securities USA.

Syed estimates that only around one-tenth of the people diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s may wind up taking Aduhelm chronicall­y, especially if regulators approve similar treatments from Biogen’s competitor­s.

Biogen, which reports thirdquart­er financial results Wednesday, is not saying how many people have received the drug since it was approved on June 7. A company executive said last month that Biogen was aware of about 50 sites infusing Aduhelm, far fewer than the 900 the company had said it expected to be ready shortly after regulators approved the drug.

Aduhelm is the first in a line of new drugs that promise to do what no other Alzheimer’s treatment has managed: slow the progress of the fatal braindestr­oying disease instead of just managing its symptoms.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administra­tion approved Aduhelm despite objections from its own independen­t advisers, several of whom resigned. The agency later said the drug was appropriat­e for patients with mild symptoms or early-stage Alzheimer’s.

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