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Expand chart
Reproduced from Altarum; Chart: Axios Visuals

Aduhelm, the Alzheimer's treatment controversially approved by the FDA, won't just put Medicare's budget in peril. The $56,000-per-year drug could single-handedly represent one percentage point of all health care spending by next year, according to an analysis from Altarum.

Why it matters: Americans already pay more for health care than any other country. But since Aduhelm is not close to being a cure — and not even proven to halt the progression of Alzheimer's — "the resultant growth in spending will therefore be sustained for the foreseeable future," Altarum researchers wrote.

By the numbers: Aduhelm, an IV medication administered in hospitals and infusion centers, will raise spending on all prescription drugs by 8% in the next few years, Altarum forecasts.

Flashback: Drug spending shot up by 12% in 2014 after Gilead's pricey hepatitis C pills, Sovaldi and Harvoni, hit the market.

  • But sales of hepatitis C medicines have declined since most people are cured after one round of treatment. That wouldn't be the case with Aduhelm.

Worth noting: The analysis doesn't factor in additional spending on PET scans, MRIs, facility fees, and other procedures and tests associated with administering Aduhelm.

Go deeper: The drug that could break American health care

Go deeper

Sep 9, 2021 - Health

HCA isn't requiring COVID-19 vaccines

An HCA hospital in Denver. Photo: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

HCA Healthcare is not yet mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for its doctors, nurses and other staff, CFO Bill Rutherford said during the Morgan Stanley health care conference Thursday.

Why it matters: HCA is one of the largest health systems in the country with 275,000 employees and 187 hospitals, many of which are in coronavirus hot spots. Health care trade groups have urged health care employers to mandate the vaccines due to the spread of the Delta variant.

Birx: Trump White House could have reduced COVID deaths by 30 to 40%

Deborah Birx, then-coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a news conference in the White House last November. Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Deborah Birx, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator under former President Trump, told a House subcommittee this month that the Trump administration could have prevented tens of thousands of deaths during the early stages of the pandemic.

Driving the news: "I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining ... and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30% less to 40% less range," Birx said in closed-door testimony to the Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, according to excerpts provided by the panel.

Study: Fear of debt keeps Latinos out of college

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Fear of never being able to pay off school loans is keeping many young Latinos in the U.S. from going to college or completing a degree, according to a report published in September.

State of play: Latinos tend to have more difficulty repaying school debt than white student borrowers, according to Federal Reserve data, at the same time that they need more loans in order to afford tuition.