Alzheimer's drug may cost Medicare $5B annually, study estimates

Eisai and Biogen's new Alzheimer's drug Leqembi could cost Medicare an estimated $2 billion to $5 billion annually, according to a study published May 11 in JAMA Internal Medicine. 

A team led by researchers at University of California, Los Angeles used nationally representative survey data from the 2018 Health and Retirement Study to perform a cost analysis of Leqembi. 

The FDA cleared the drug via its accelerated approval pathway in January and is slated to make a decision on full approval in July. If approved, Medicare would expand coverage for the drug, according to CNBC.

Researchers found Medicare would pay about $2 billion annually if 85,700 patients used the drug annually. This figure jumps to about $5 billion if 216,500 Alzheimer's patients become eligible for the treatment.

Patients could also face out-of-pocket costs of about $6,600 per year depending on their location and insurance status.

Researchers said these estimates were conservative, adding that Leqembi spending could increase more than expected based on demand and other factors, according to CNBC.

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