Alzheimer’s medication Aduhelm (Aducanumab) has been making headlines at the rate of a Hollywood celebrity. Aduhelm has been plagued by bad news since its controversial debut almost a year ago. Recent headlines include Medicare strictly limiting coverage of the drug with private insurers quickly following its lead, withdrawing the drug’s EU application, and Biogen’s CEO stepping down.
Initial hope for Aduhelm’s success ran high given it was the first new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease to hit the market in almost twenty years. Patients and caregivers were eager for the first FDA-approved therapy to address the underlying biology of Alzheimer’s disease. Emotions were jubilant at the drug’s stated ability to reduce the speed of clinical decline due to Alzheimer’s disease, which is immensely difficult for families to see happen to their loved ones. Biogen, the Aduhelm’s maker, had expected the drug to become its next blockbuster, grossing billions of dollars annually. However, expectations fell quickly when the drug’s unproven benefits and serious safety risks became apparent.
A recent poll by Sermo painted a clear picture that neurologists have widespread concerns about prescribing Aduhelm to their patients. The poll of 50+ U.S.-based neurologists found that Medicare’s decision to strictly limit coverage of Aduhelm to certain clinical trials is not a surprise as 77% of those surveyed said they agreed with Medicare’s decision.
The majority of neurologists are holding off prescribing Aduhelm to their patients as only 11% of those surveyed reported that they have prescribed the medication. This low prescribing rate is likely due to 89% of neurologists having concerns about the efficacy of the medication and 87% having concerns about the safety of the medication.
Despite the ongoing controversy around Aduhelm, patients are talking about the medication with their neurologists. Biogen’s brand awareness pushes are getting through to patients as 62% of U.S.-based neurologists surveyed said a patient had expressed interest in the medication.
Aduhelm’s future remains uncertain as neurologists appear unconvinced of its merits and Biogen appears to be abandoning its marketing efforts.
Below, Sermo physicians from around the world share their professional insights, perspectives, and opinions on this important topic—in their own words:
“Sadly this issue in the US is being decided by political pressure and not the available science. Many lay folks mistakenly think that the drug will actually REVERSE Alzheimer’s, when clearly there are NO scientific data to support that.”Intensive Care, United States
“Allowing it only as part of a clinical trial is appropriate.”Geriatric Medicine, United States
“This drug warrants further study on possible long-term consequences.”General Practice, Venezuela
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