Patient groups have launched a campaign designed to pressure federal agencies to loosen proposed restrictions on Biogen Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm, Reuters reports.
A seven-figure ad campaign that began running over the weekend features Alzheimer’s patients and includes social media outreach, as well as print ads on bus stops and other transportation in the Washington, DC, area.
“We want to put a face on the individuals that are affected by this Medicare decision,” George Vradenburg, chairman of the group funding the ad campaign, USAgainstAlzheimer’s, told the news service. “We tend to talk about big numbers. We don’t talk about individual people.”
Television spots began airing during the Sunday morning political shows in the Washington DC, and Baltimore areas targeting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the White House and Congress, according to Reuters. The campaign tagline is, “Alzheimer’s patients can’t wait.”
In another show of support by a patient group, the Alliance for Aging Research said it has organized a protest set to take place Tuesday opposite HHS headquarters in Washington.
The efforts come on the heels of a draft proposal by CMS to limit Medicare reimbursement of Aduhelm and an entire class of disease-slowing drugs, except for subjects enrolled in clinical trials. Eli Lilly, Roche and Eisai are among those developing plaque-clearing drugs that stand to be affected by the decision.
According to results of a survey posted to the UsAgainstAlzheimers website Monday, 75% of people with Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s caregivers want Medicare to cover newly approved therapies that are “reasonably likely to have an effect” – even after they are told that the drugs have a risk of side effects and still require confirmatory trials.
Aduhelm’s price – which Biogen slashed by 50% to $28,200 per patient in December – has prompted Medicare budget concerns. Prevalence of the age-related disease is expected to rise from about 6 million to 13 million by 2050, and roughly 85% of people eligible for the drug are covered by Medicare. Around a million people should be eligible for Aduhelm, per Biogen’s own estimate.
A final CMS coverage decision is due April 11. Meanwhile, CMS has received thousands of letters from patients and doctors, according to Reuters, clamoring for access to the drug, which was approved last June. Many of the comments the Medicare agency has received have also praised it for considering curbs on Aduhelm’s use.