Apr 18, 2023

ICER Analysis of Leqembi Finds $26,500 Price Tag Exceeds Drug’s “Cost Effectiveness” For Patients, Health Care System

On Monday, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) released an analysis “assessing the comparative clinical effectiveness and value” of brand name drug maker Eisai’s treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, lecanemab, otherwise known by its brand name, Leqembi. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Eisai an accelerated approval pathway for Leqembi in January, and the company subsequently announced it would price the drug at $26,500 per year.

ICER’s analysis finds that at its current list price, Leqembi “represents ‘low’ long-term value” for patients and the health care system, and that a fair price for the drug would be in the “$8,900 – $21,500 per year” range, or significantly less than the drug is currently priced. Importantly, Eisai is bringing Leqembi to market in partnership with Big Pharma company Biogen, which is well known for its egregious pricing strategy around the FDA’s first approved drug for Alzheimer’s disease, Aduhelm.

The Aduhelm Saga: Big Pharma Targeting Alzheimer’s Drugs With High Launch Prices

In 2021, Biogen received an accelerated approval pathway from the FDA for Aduhelm as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. Biogen subsequently set a massive launch price of $56,000 on the drug for an annual course of treatment. After receiving broad backlash from patients, lawmakers, drug pricing advocates and medical experts, Biogen slashed the price of the drug in half.

Despite this fact, Biogen’s reduced price tag for Aduhelm was still approximately three to 10 times greater than what ICER concluded would be a fair price for the treatment. ICER’s analysis found that a fair price for Aduhelm would fall somewhere between $2,500 and $8,300.

At the time, Biogen’s pricing of Aduhelm was so egregious the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a $21.60 increase in Medicare Part B monthly premiums for 2022, an increase of 14.5 percent, and the largest dollar figure increase in the program’s history. CMS officials cited Aduhelm’s price as a key factor in the agency’s decision to increase premiums.

CMS ultimately recognized the need for more data on the drug in a finalized National Coverage Determination decision that protected seniors, taxpayers and the U.S. health care system from Biogen’s price-gouging of an unproven treatment.

Still, ICER’s recent analysis of Leqembi echoes the controversy around Aduhelm and should serve as a reminder to policymakers that Big Pharma companies will charge whatever prices they think they can get away with, no matter the impact on patients, taxpayers, and the U.S. health system.

Read ICER’s Final Evidence Report on Eisai’s Alzheimer’s treatment Leqembi HERE.

Read more about Biogen’s egregious pricing on Aduhelm HERE.

Learn more about bipartisan, market-based solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable HERE.