SAN DIEGO — A Biogen executive had just finished presenting slides on the company’s resurrected Alzheimer’s drug at a medical meeting here on Thursday, and now it was time for the panel of experts up on stage to weigh in on whether they found the data convincing.
They did. In fact, they positively gushed. One of the experts called the data “exhilarating.” Another deemed it “a hugely important result.” A third heralded “a milestone achievement for our field.”
Beyond their favorable impressions of Biogen’s data, the three experts on stage had several things in common: Each has been vocal about believing in the idea that clearing the brain of amyloid plaques — the controversial mechanism behind Biogen’s drug — will prove key to taming Alzheimer’s. Each has received fees for consulting or research from Biogen. Each sits on the steering committee tasked with helping shepherd the company’s drug, aducanumab, through development. Two of them were even principal investigators for the trials at the center of Biogen’s data reveal. (These affiliations were noted in a conflict-of-interest slide at the top of the presentation.)