Biogen CEO to resign

Biogen's CEO Michel Vounatsos is resigning. He will continue leading the company until it appoints his successor, Biogen said May 3. 

Mr. Vounatsos has served as Biogen's CEO since 2017. His departure comes as the company navigates a path forward after its Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm failed to become the blockbuster drug it had hoped, The Wall Street Journal reports. CMS in April finalized its coverage plan for Aduhelm, ruling Medicare would only cover the drug for patients enrolled in clinical trials. Aduhelm's rollout has faced a tumultuous path, with criticism of its high cost, severe potential side effects and conflicting trial results over its effectiveness. 

Biogen is dramatically cutting spending. The company anticipates $500 million in savings annually as it plans to substantially eliminate the sales infrastructure it built to support Aduhelm's rollout. That's in addition to a $500 million cost-cutting program Biogen implemented in December, bringing the total annual savings target to $1 billion, the Journal reports. 

"We are disappointed by the recent Medicare coverage decision for Aduhelm," Mr. Vounatsos said. "We have a strong balance sheet, enabling us to advance a broad pipeline that includes lecanemab in Alzheimer's disease and zuranolone in depression, while also pursuing new internal and external growth opportunities." 

The company expects to complete an accelerated approval application to the FDA for lecanemab, in the second quarter of 2022. Biogen and partner Eisai expect late-stage trial results to be completed in the fall, with Eisai slated to seek full approval of the drug early next year. 

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