VA to cover Eisai's new Alzheimer's drug after declining to cover Aduhelm
The Veterans Health Administration will cover Eisai and Biogen’s new Alzheimer’s drug Leqembi (lecanemab), reversing on an earlier decision to not pay for veterans to access Biogen’s other amyloid-targeted drug Aduhelm (aducanumab).
The decision to cover Eisai’s expected $7 billion blockbuster, announced Monday, follows an accelerated approval in January, and now the FDA has until July 6 to decide on a full approval for the reducer of Aβ plaque in the brain. The conversion from accelerated to full approval is likely to bring coverage from Medicare, opening up other private insurer coverage, and a steady stream of sales that Aduhelm has never seen.
“While it is difficult to estimate the number of veterans living with the early stages of AD with confirmed elevated amyloid, Eisai estimates that approximately 80-90% of veterans who are eligible for treatment based on the FDA approved label indication would also fit the criteria for the CFU,” Libby Holman, an Eisai spokesperson, said in an email to Endpoints News.
The first shipments of Leqembi, which has a list price of $26,500 per year, went out in January.
In deciding not to cover Aduhelm previously, however, the VA pointed to the “lack of evidence of a robust and meaningful clinical benefit and the known safety signal.”
“It is not being added to the VA National Formulary due to the risk of significant adverse drug events and to the lack of evidence of a positive impact on cognition,” confirmed a spokesperson for the VA at the time.