Oct 21, 2021 - Health

Aduhelm is bombing

A blue, white and maroon box and vial of Aduhelm.
The average list price of Aduhelm is roughly $4,300 per monthly infusion. Photo: Biogen

Biogen sold $300,000 worth of Aduhelm in the third quarter, well below Wall Street's expectations, which prompted analysts at Raymond James to call the Alzheimer's drug "potentially the worst drug launch of all time" amid Biogen's "persistent hyperbole about the drug's purported benefits."

The big picture: Aduhelm's controversial approval and high price tag have shaped the market reaction. Health insurers are hesitant to cover Aduhelm until Medicare makes a decision next year, and doctors aren't embracing the drug either.

What they're saying: Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos told Wall Street analysts yesterday the main reason there has been almost no uptake of Aduhelm is the "lack of clarity on reimbursement," which Medicare will clear up by next year.

  • Biogen has no short-term plans to lower the price of Aduhelm — which is $4,300 per monthly infusion for the average patient and $56,000 annually — because "price doesn't come up as the first worry," Vounatsos said.
  • The company declined to comment further when reached by a reporter.

By the numbers: Financial analysts said the consensus of $1 billion in Aduhelm sales in 2022 now appears to be way too high given the insurance hurdles and lack of physician buy-in.

  • Umer Raffat, an analyst at Evercore ISI, thinks 2022 sales will be closer to $200 million.
  • Ronny Gal of Bernstein estimates sales will be around $300 million.

What we're watching: Biogen executives said the company submitted Aduhelm's clinical trial results "to a top-tier journal with a manuscript now under peer review," but did not provide any further details.

  • Executives said "there are a meaningful portion of prescribers that are still undecided," and therefore physicians and researchers are eager to see published results.
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