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Biogen's Alzheimer's drug has not been prescribed widely yet. Photo: Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The uptake for Aduhelm, the controversially approved Alzheimer's drug, has been a lot slower than expected as the drug faces "near-term challenges," Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos said at the Morgan Stanley health care conference Thursday.

Between the lines: Physicians want to see Aduhelm's clinical trial data, which has not been published in a medical journal yet, and they want to know how and if they'll be paid for administering the IV drug, which has a $56,000-per-year list price.

What they're saying: "The majority of sites are waiting for clarity on reimbursement," said Alisha Alaimo, the president of Biogen's U.S. operations.

  • Medicare is currently determining whether it will pay for Aduhelm and isn't expected to reach an initial decision until January.
  • Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare's administrative contractors have been paying for the drug in the interim, Alaimo said, but only if Alzheimer's patients meet the more narrow criteria as those who were in the clinical trials.
  • Vounatsos added that the manuscript for the drug's late-stage trial data has been submitted for review to a medical journal, but did not offer details. Biogen already pulled its Aduhelm paper from JAMA.

Go deeper: Biogen's mad there's no hype for its Alzheimer's drug

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Oct 20, 2021 - Technology

The AI pharmacist

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Artificial intelligence — the ultimate optimization engine — is meeting one of its biggest challenges: untangling the messy, slow and expensive work of drug development.

Why it matters: Even as computing power has gotten faster and cheaper, drugs remain slow and costly to develop, in part because of the sheer work in selecting a candidate and getting it across the finish line.

Biden rejects Trump's latest executive privilege claims

Photo: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Monday rejected two more of former President Trump's claims of executive privilege over documents that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot requested, CNN first reported.

Why it matters: Trump's legal team is seeking to block some of the panel's requests for records by invoking executive privilege, which can allow presidents and their aides to sidestep congressional scrutiny. The Biden administration has maintained that it will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

Amazon warehouse workers in New York file petition to hold unionization vote

Amazon workers and their supporters rally outside the National Labor Relations Board's regional office in Brooklyn, New York City, after filing a petition requesting an election to form a union. Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon warehouse workers in New York City filed a petition on Monday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a vote on unionization.

Why it matters: The move comes six months after an organizing effort was defeated at Amazon's distribution center in Alabama.