Biogen CEO stepping down after Medicare decision on Alzheimer’s drug

Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos will be stepping down from his position after more than five years at the helm, with this development coming not long after Medicare decided to limit coverage of his company’s Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm.

In an earnings report, Biogen said a new CEO has yet to be appointed. Vounatsos will stay on as CEO until his replacement is found.

“Mr. Vounatsos was instrumental in establishing multiple franchises that address the significant
unmet need of patients living with devastating diseases and was the architect of a significant international expansion of the Company,” Biogen said.

“It has been an honor to lead this outstanding Company during such a challenging period and to work closely with so many dedicated and talented colleagues,” Vounatsos said. “I am very proud of Biogen’s unparalleled capabilities in neuroscience, a complex field with tremendous unmet medical need, and of the novel medicines and benefits we have brought to patients.”

Chairman of Biogen’s board of directors, Stelios Papadopoulos, said in a statement shared by the company that it was the “right time” to bring on a new leader.

Early last month, the Biden administration finalized its decision to limit Medicare coverage of Aduhelm to people who are participating in a clinical trial of the drug.

Vounatsos said the company was “disappointed by the recent Medicare coverage decision.”

“We executed on our core business objectives in the first quarter, and we will now look forward and execute on a set of near-term operational priorities, which we believe will drive renewed growth and value creation over time,” he said.

Aduhelm garnered a high degree of controversy when it became the first Alzheimer’s medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration in nearly 20 years due to its steep price and the uncertainty over whether it actually helped to treat Alzheimer’s.

In its report, Biogen said it would be taking additional cost-reducing methods by enacting “substantial elimination of Biogen’s global commercial infrastructure supporting Aduhelm.” The company estimated its cost-reduction methods to result in about $1 billion in annual savings.

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