GAP Renews Its Call for CMS to Cover the New Class of Drugs for the Treatment of Alzheimer’s
Washington, D.C. (December 20, 2021) – John Dwyer, President of the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation® (GAP), a person-centric non-profit organization committed to accelerating the discovery of therapies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, issued the following statement on the announcement today by Biogen Inc. that it would reduce the cost of their Alzheimer’s treatment ADUHELM® by nearly 50%. This cost-reduction is the first of several steps that are required to effectively give access to the first FDA approved therapy for Early Alzheimer’s, a disease that afflicts millions of Americans.
“Biogen’s announcement that it would be lowering the cost of ADUHELM by 50% opens the door for treatment access for all Alzheimer’s patients – especially those in medically underserved communities that are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s.
GAP has been in the vanguard of patient advocacy groups calling for Biogen to reduce the price of ADUHELM. The price change announced Monday is nearly unprecedented, and we want to thank Biogen for listening to patients, their caregivers, and the entire Alzheimer’s community.
Over 80 percent of those eligible for ADUHELM and similar therapies in the U.S. receive their health insurance through Medicare. But Medicare is still evaluating whether ADUHELM will be covered under its policy. With this price change, the time has come for Medicare to also listen to the needs of Alzheimer’s patients. ADUHELM is an FDA approved treatment – the first in nearly 20 years for people with early Alzheimer’s, a progressive and fatal disease – and it’s imperative that it be covered under Medicare programs.
Numerous similarly FDA approved therapies for cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis, and other diseases were afforded coverage by CMS, allowing physicians, patients, and their families to make informed decisions as to whether the drug was right for them, without fear of having payment for the treatment denied by Medicare.
To make matters worse, recently the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) took the unprecedented step of blaming Alzheimer’s patients for a planned Part B premium increase. The fine print of the CMS announcement cited numerous items that might also be causes of the increase. If the CMS actuary believes ADUHELM costs are a primary reason for the premium increase, then logic dictates that Biogen’s reduced price and low estimate of patients on the drug in 2022 requires CMS to reverse its planned increase while covering ADUHELM. 57 million Medicare beneficiaries are going to experience a premium increase that is financially unwarranted and that stigmatizes Alzheimer patients.
For the first time in nearly 20 years, Alzheimer’s patients have an FDA approved therapy — a therapy for a condition that has no other treatment. Biogen has substantially reduced the drug’s price. It is now time for CMS to cover this drug, as it has before for other diseases, so that millions of Alzheimer’s patients might benefit. Do not make us wait any longer.”