Biogen will begin shipping Alzheimer’s drug in about two weeks, according to Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A sign identifies a Biogen facility some employees tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a meeting in Boston in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the United States, March 9, 2020

(Reuters) – Biogen Inc said Tuesday that it expects to begin shipping its newly approved Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm in about two weeks and has prepared more than 900 health centers for intravenous infusion treatment.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Aduhelm on Monday as the first treatment that targets a likely underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease, sticky deposits of a protein called amyloid beta.

Biogen (NASDAQ 🙂 Chief Executive Officer Michel Vounatsos said in a call with analysts that the sites include clinical trial centers with currently confirmed amyloid-beta positive patients, as well as other sites with infrastructure to diagnose and treat patients.

The company has set the drug at $ 56,000 a year, and patients prescribed it will have to undergo additional tests such as a CSF (CSF) or PET scan to check for amyloid-beta in the brain to confirm.

Michael McDonnell, Biogen’s CFO, said on the call that there are approximately one to two million Americans diagnosed with mild dementia or cognitive impairment who would be amyloid beta positive on a test.

The need for PET or CSF tests and the limited availability of specialists to monitor patients taking the drug could limit the use of Aduhelm in these patients, McDonnell said.

“We believe the majority of patients diagnosed are currently not being treated by a specialist and so expect gradual admission over time,” he added.

Aduhelm’s revenues could rise from 2022 and beyond, but could be low in 2021 due to the need for locations to prepare for diagnosis and treatment of patients and the time it will take to get insurance coverage for the drug, said McDonnell.

Guggenheim analysts estimated Monday that sales of the drug could top $ 1.3 billion in 2022. Biogen stock was down about 3% to $ 384.87.

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