Biogen's Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm slowly gaining steam among prescribing neurologists, study finds

Biogen
Biogen’s prospects should only improve over the next month as Aduhelm's prescriber base grows by nearly 50%, according to estimates from Spherix Global Insights. (Biogen)

A week ago, Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos sent the company's shares into a nosedive after disclosing its launch of Alzheimer’s disease med Aduhelm was slower than expected. But according to one new analysis, there may be signs things are looking up.

Data collected from a survey of 74 neurologists collected at the start of the month found that at least two thirds of respondents anticipate having at least some patients on Aduhelm by March 2022, according to Spherix Global Insights’ newly launched drug report released on Thursday. That could result in “an estimated brand share substantially higher than that projected back in August,” the report found. 

RELATED: Biogen CEO blames Aduhelm’s rocky launch on 'too much confusion, misinformation and controversy'

The results indicate increased signs of optimism, according to Spherix, with small increases in the prescriber base and number of new patients compared to the stagnant trends found in the first few months following Aduhelm’s June FDA nod. In Spherix's mid-July report, only about one fourth (27%) of responding physicians had planned to prescribe Aduhelm in the next few months.

Biogen’s prospects should improve in the coming weeks, Spherix estimates. According to the report, the prescriber base will likely grow by nearly 50% within that time, which could lead to twice the number of new patient initiations when compared with August.

Despite the maelstrom of negative press Biogen’s accelerated FDA nod has garnered, one in seven newly diagnosed patients with the memory-robbing disease are considered potential Aduhelm candidates, Spherix said. 

Therefore, Aduhelm’s long-term success “does not appear to be markedly limited by physician willingness to prescribe” the treatment or “clinical determination of patient eligibility.” 

RELATED: Biogen's Aduhelm label far exceeds clinical trial population, study says. That could bring real-world surprises

That negative press has been a point of agitation for Biogen. Last week, Vounatsos partially blamed Aduhelm’s meager uptake on the “confusion, misinformation and controversy” surrounding its divergent clinical trial results and the FDA’s approval process, which has been the subject of multiple investigations in Washington. 

That hasn't been the only headache. The Biogen chief also said there were problems with the insufficient infrastructure to administer the antibody, given as a monthly IV infusion, and issues over its potential reimbursement from payers. 

Spherix’s report did confirm that the majority of the surveyed neurologists consider Aduhelm’s market access landscape restrictive, saying they already have a “high level of familiarity” with the amyloid-plaque attacking drug. 

That familiarity should improve once Biogen publishes Aduhelm’s clinical trial data, which has been at the center of the controversy surrounding its FDA nod, in a peer-reviewed medical journal, Spherix said. Whether neurologists perceive Aduhelm to be an advancement for Alzheimer’s patients, however, will “need to be watched.”