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Biogen CEO says $56K a year for new Alzheimer's drug is a 'fair' price

Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos on Monday said in an interview that he believed charging $56,000 per year for his company’s newly approved Alzheimer's medication was “fair,” citing years of “no innovation” in the marketplace.

Appearing on CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” Vounatsos said the price of the drug, sold as Aduhelm, was a reflection of “two decades of no innovation,” and said it would allow Biogen to fund medications for other diseases.

He also vowed that his company would not raise the price of Aduhelm for at least the next four years.

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Vounatsos added that it was time to “invest” in Alzheimer’s treatment when asked if he expected pushback from patients for the high price of his company’s drug.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Monday that it had approved the Biogen drug, also known as aducanumab. This is the first Alzheimer’s medication approved by the FDA since 2003.

Though it was approved, the drug is controversial as some Alzheimer’s experts and committees have said there is not enough evidence to suggest that it is effective in treating the neurologic disorder.

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Director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Patrizia Cavazzoni, said in a statement that the agency had concluded that the benefits offered by the drug outweighed the risks.

As Biogen received accelerated approval, it will need to conduct another trial to prove the benefits of its drug. The FDA could potentially remove the drug from the market if its benefits are not proven. The agency on Monday acknowledged the controversy surrounding the approval.

"There has been considerable public debate on whether Aduhelm should be approved," the FDA said. "As is often the case when it comes to interpreting scientific data, the expert community has offered differing perspectives."