A significant part of the large increase in the Medicare Part B premium for next year is because of the cost of the new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm, which was priced at $56,000 a year.
The premium increase came even though the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not yet determined whether and how it will cover Aduhelm. But in order to pay for the drug treatment in case it does decide to cover it, CMS wanted to build up a reserve of funds.
However, Biogen, the company that makes Aduhelm, has just announced it will cut the price of Aduhelm in half in an effort to increase sales which have been poor, in part because of its enormous cost.
It turns out that sales of the drug brought in only $300,000 for Biogen between July and September after forecasts had predicted revenue to reach $12 million.
Since the cost has been halved, we wonder if CMS will now reduce the cost of the Medicare Part B premium hike.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is reviewing the evidence for a potential national policy for the drug.
The drug has been controversial both for its price and because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it despite doubts from experts about its effectiveness.
The FDA granted accelerated approval for the drug on June 7. Aduhelm, was the first new Alzheimer's drug approved in nearly 20 years, but the approval came over the near-unanimous objections of the FDA's expert advisory committee. As a result of the FDA’s decision, three members of the advisory panel subsequently resigned.
Additionally, the approval came after two large-scale trials to gauge the drug’s efficacy were halted early because they were deemed unlikely to work.
The FDA had initially approved the drug for all Alzheimer's patients, but in July narrowed its intended use to only patients with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia.