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Yesterday, the FDA approved Biogen’s aducanumab, the first drug to treat the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s (sticky brain plaques) and potentially slow the disease’s progression in early stage patients. Although far from a cure, aducanumab could mark a new era in treating the leading cause of dementia and the sixth leading cause of death in the US.
Not all doctors are ready to prescribe
Biogen had shelved the drug in early 2019, then surprised the medical community by breaking it back out that October. Last November, an expert panel advised the FDA not to approve aducanumab after a pair of studies showed conflicting results about its effectiveness.
But the agency fast-tracked it, arguing that the benefits of slowing Alzheimer’s outweigh the risks. Since aducanumab’s clinical effectiveness isn’t certain, Biogen still has to conduct post-approval trials, but some health experts worry the FDA made the wrong decision.
Big picture: It’s easier to crack the TikTok algorithm than it is to treat Alzheimer’s. A string of failures led many pharma companies to give up, though some analysts think Biogen’s breakthrough could renew interest, Reuters reports. There’s certainly money to be made: Biogen says the treatment, which will be sold under the name “Aduhelm,” will cost $56,000 a year.
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