Expensive Alzheimer's Drug Upsets Medicare's Annual Bill
It's a shocking figure: The controversial new Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm reportedly accounts for at least half of Medicare's year-over-year price increase.
Photo Insert: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of aducanumab, a treatment for Alzheimer's disease drew mixed reviews.
Distributed by the company Biogen, Aduhelm is priced at a whopping $56,000 a year — nearly double the median American income of $30,000. Jon Skolnik did the math this weekend and discovered that if Medicare were to cover the cost of the drug for just 1 million Americans, its spending on Aduhelm would exceed $57 billion annually, almost assuredly tanking the entire system.
“All this, for a drug experts aren't even convinced works. It's unclear at this point what officials will do about the looming catastrophe should large numbers of Medicare enrollees seek to acquire Aduhelm — given that Medicare is not allowed under current law to negotiate Part B and Part D drug prices,” wrote Brett Bachman for Crash Course, the daily update of Salon.
But one thing is for certain: outrage over the rising cost of drugs — and Washington's unwillingness to lower them — has reached a fever pitch.
"The big picture here is that the biotech whiz-bang takes money away from basic healthcare," Harvard lecturer Dr. John Abramson, whose forthcoming book "Sickening" tackles Big Pharma and corruption, told Salon.
"And in my opinion, that's why the US – despite spending an excess of $1.5 trillion a year – is losing ground rapidly in terms of population health, compared not just to the other wealthy nations, but to all the nations."