Biogen scraps controversial Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm

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Biogen is pulling the plug on the controversial drug Aduhelm, the first drug cleared by government health officials for treating Alzheimer’s in nearly two decades.

The pharmaceutical giant is returning the rights to the drug to Neurimmune, the private firm that invented it, and incurring a $60 million one-time charge to close out the Aduhelm program, Biogen said Wednesday in a statement

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Biogen plans to instead focus its resources on other Alzheimer’s efforts. That includes Leqembi, a drug that Biogen is partnering with Japan’s Eisai on that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last year.

Granted accelerated approval in 2021, Aduhelm has not met commercial expectations, with insurers including the federal Medicare program largely refusing to cover the drug because of doubt over its effectiveness and its high cost.

When Biogen initially released Aduhelm, it set the price at $56,000 annually, but later slashed the price in half to about $28,200 after an outcry. 

Roughly 6 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s, which gradually attacks areas of the brain needed for memory, reasoning, communication and daily tasks.

Kate Gibson

Kate Gibson is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch in New York.

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