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US lawmakers to investigate approval, pricing of Alzheimer's drug from Biogen

US lawmakers to investigate approval, pricing of Alzheimer's drug from Biogen

FILE PHOTO: A sign marks a Biogen facility, some of whose employees have tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a meeting in Boston, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

US lawmakers on Friday (Jun 25) announced an investigation into the approval and pricing of Biogen Inc's Alzheimer's drug, Aduhelm, amid concerns over its steep price and doubts if the clinical evidence proves the drug works.

The drug, which has a list price of US$56,000 per year, was approved by the US regulators as the first treatment to attack a likely cause of Alzheimer's on Jun 7.

"We have serious concerns about the steep price of Biogen's new Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm and the process that led to its approval despite questions about the drug's clinical benefit," House Committee on Oversight and Reform said in a statement.

The investigation has been announced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr, Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Biogen did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

At US$56,000 a year, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that Medicare could spend US$57 billion or more per year on Aduhelm, which is more than Medicare Part B spends on all other drugs combined, the House Committee said.

Health insurers and the Medicare program will bear most of the cost of the drug, whose price will vary based on dosage and discounts.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug - despite strong objection from its own expert advisory panel - for all patients with Alzheimer's, although it has only been tested for patients in the early stages of the disease.

Three of the 11 members of FDA's independent advisory panel have resigned in protest over the agency's decision.

Shares of the drugmaker were down nearly 1 per cent in after-market trading.

Source: Reuters

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