WASHINGTON — The future of Alzheimer’s treatments and coverage hung heavily over lawmakers’ Wednesday hearing with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
Dotted throughout the hearing room for Becerra’s testimony on the president’s proposed health care budget for 2024 were purple-clad advocates for Alzheimer’s disease treatments, who Democrats and Republicans alike acknowledged repeatedly throughout the hearing. But while senators from both parties pushed for speedy approvals and Medicare coverage of new drugs for the disease, they unsurprisingly diverged on how to manage the costs.
At the center of discussions was a controversial Medicare decision, last year, not to cover Biogen’s Aduhelm except through clinical trials, a decision later extended to Eisai’s Leqembi. The Food and Drug Administration approved both via the accelerated pathway, with limited data on either drug’s effectiveness. The drugmakers are required to follow up with more extensive data proving each medicine’s benefit.
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