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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.

Go deeper

Nov 4, 2021 - Health

Democrats are trying to cut drug costs for employers, too

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Democrats' drug pricing plan doesn't just apply to Medicare — parts of it also extend into the commercial market, giving the federal government an unprecedented new role in regulating prices paid by those with private insurance.

Why it matters: Medicare negotiations may be the highlight of the plan, but this quieter expansion could signal a political appetite for cost-cutting reforms loathed by most of the health industry.

1 hour ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.

7 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.