“Alzheimer’s drug Leqembi has full FDA approval now and that means Medicare will pay for it” (copy)

Alzheimer’s drug Leqembi has full FDA approval now and that means Medicare will pay for it,” by Matthew Perrone, AP

“U.S. officials granted full approval to a closely watched Alzheimer’s drug on Thursday, clearing the way for Medicare and other insurance plans to begin covering the treatment for people with the brain-robbing disease. The Food and Drug Administration endorsed the IV drug, Leqembi, for patients with mild dementia and other symptoms caused by early Alzheimer’s disease. It’s the first medicine that’s been convincingly shown to modestly slow the cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s. … Alzheimer’s patients and advocates have been lobbying the federal government for months after Medicare officials announced last year they wouldn’t pay for routine use of drugs like Leqembi until they receive FDA’s full approval. There were concerns that the cost of new plaque-targeting Alzheimer’s drugs could overwhelm the program’s finances, which provide care for 60 million seniors. Leqembi is priced at about $26,500 for a year’s supply of IVs every two weeks.”

LTC Comment, Stephen A. Moses, President, Center for Long-Term Care Reform:

Demand will be astronomical. “Eisai has told investors that about 100,000 Americans could be diagnosed and eligible to receive Leqembi by 2026.” Thank goodness Medicare wisely invested its trust fund in real assets and not just Treasury IOUs. Oh wait, there is nothing in Medicare’s trust fund but IOUs, the program already relies on general funds, and its economic future is bleak. But Uncle Sam will borrow more to cover these new costs and everyone will pay for it through inflation. Worth it? Certainly to those who need and want the drug, whatever its “modest” benefit. But it is important to recognize the tradeoff.