The U.S. Veterans Health Administration will pay for some beneficiaries to get a new Alzheimer’s disease drug from Eisai Co. and Biogen Inc., a move toward broader coverage of the controversial drug category.
The VA added Leqembi, which received accelerated approval from the Food and Drug Administration in January, to its list of nonformulary drugs. Patients who want to take the drug would have to request it and receive prior approval and meet stringent inclusion criteria, according to the VA website.
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Leqembi is the first drug shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, which robs patients of memories and other brain functions, and Eisai has said that it expects revenue from it to reach $7.3 billion in 2030. The drug rids the brain of abnormal protein, called amyloid, that has been linked to the lethal disease.
Health officials tightly restricted payment for a similar drug, Biogen’s Aduhelm, after it received accelerated approval, saying data hadn’t sufficiently shown it was effective. The FDA declined to give early approval to another amyloid-fighting drug, Eli Lilly & Co.’s donanemab, in January.
The VA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
—With assistance from Angelica Peebles.