July 6, 2021 | STAT
Is the Alzheimer’s Association really pushing Biogen to lower its new drug’s price — or is it lip service?
The Alzheimer’s Association stunned Washington last month when it urged Biogen to lower the price of its new Alzheimer’s drug — an extremely rare rebuke on drug pricing from a patient advocacy group, most of which normally sidestep the topic.
Pharma’s fiercest critics here — many of whom have blasted patient advocacy groups for not being more involved in the drug pricing debate — celebrated the Alzheimer’s Association’s audacity, especially as it risked being blackballed by its pharma funders. The statement made it clear that Biogen, as one crisis communications expert put it, “can’t afford to alienate its biggest cheerleader.”
But not everyone is ready to believe that the Alzheimer’s Association is actually pushing the company to cut the drug’s $56,000 annual price tag.
“I don’t think we want to be sanguine about treating any old statement on the part of a patient organization about drug prices as fully fulfilling their responsibility to patients,” said Matthew McCoy, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania who studies the relationships between patient advocates and drug makers.