Spherix Global Insights

December 01, 2021

Physician Hesitation to Prescribe Biogen/Eisai’s Aduhelm in Alzheimer’s Disease Grows Amid Controversies

As brand satisfaction and patient candidacy numbers continue to erode, Spherix will assess the impact of the recent patient death potentially linked to Aduhelm

EXTON, Pa., December 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — For those of us following the evolution of neurology pharmaceutical markets, 2021 will be remembered by many for the tumultuous roll out of Biogen/Eisai’s Aduhelm (aducanumab) for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

While the launch of the first disease-modifying therapy (DMT) for Alzheimer’s was anticipated to be a momentous occasion, no one could have foreseen the number of bumps in the road that began with an approval based upon a biomarker thought to have a clinical effect and a misaligned price point. The investigation of a patient death due to amyloid-related imaging abnormality (ARIA), a known side effect of Aduhelm, is the most recent obstacle eating into any substantial uptake of the brand.

Spherix Global Insights, a leading market intelligence firm specializing in neurology-based research and insights, has been tracking Aduhelm since launch through their Launch Dynamix™: Aduhelm (Biogen) in Alzheimer’s Disease (US) service. The Launch Dynamix™ service provides monthly tracking of the first eighteen months of commercial availability, augmented by quarterly deep dive reports informed by both qualitative and quantitative research.

Data from the first quarterly deep dive wave of research, conducted with 74 neurologists and Alzheimer’s disease specialists between September 2nd and 7th, already showed safety to be a major concern and a common reason for intending to never prescribe Aduhelm. ARIA was the top-of-mind safety concern, with almost half of respondents not at all confident that they could manage the complications if it occurred in one of their Aduhelm-treated patients.

Qualitative interviews suggest that discussions with Biogen sales representatives may not be doing much to ally physicians’ ARIA fears. One physician noted, “When we are being detailed, I would say probably more than half of the discussion is all talking about safety. It’s a little bit scarier than like, ‘Oh, it helps patients.’ But then the discussion was more about the ARIA, and what you want to do about it.”

Monthly trending of key performance indices (KPIs) through the days (November 4th to 9th) leading up to concerted media coverage of the patient death showed a consistent decline month over month in the percent of patients considered to be appropriate candidates for Aduhelm. At the same time, fewer and fewer nonusers anticipated prescribing Aduhelm for the first time within the next three months, and brand satisfaction among the very few prescribers has eroded.

Spherix coverage of the Aduhelm launch continues with fielding beginning today for the second quarterly deep dive survey. In addition to trending the monthly KPIs, physicians’ awareness of the patient death will be measured. The impact of the patient death on current willingness to prescribe Aduhelm and future willingness to prescribe pipeline products in the ß-amyloid (Aß) drug class (including Eisai/Biogen’s lecanemab, Eli Lilly’s donanemab, Genentech/Morphosys’s gantenerumab) will also be assessed. ARIA-related perceptions, such as the influence of asymptomatic ARIA on Aduhelm discontinuation, will be compared to the prior wave.

In early 2022, Spherix will establish their Market Dynamix: Alzheimer’s Disease (US) service. This independent service is designed to provide insight into unmet needs, current treatment paradigms, and the potential of pipeline agents. The research will include targeted assessment of lecanemab, donanemab, gantenerumab, Cassava’s simufilam, Athira’s ATH-1017, Anavex’s blarcamesine, Annovis’ ANVS401, Cortexyme’s atuzaginstat, and Synaptogenix’s Bryostatin-1.

One of the key objectives of Market Dynamix™ will be to measure how physicians’ experience with and perceptions of Aduhelm have influenced, if at all, their receptivity to other agents in the Aß drug class. In addition, Spherix will assess physicians’ proclivity to trial a DMT for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease assuming approval through the accelerated pathway.

 About Launch Dynamix™
Launch Dynamix™ is an independent service providing a monthly benchmarking of newly launched products for the first eighteen months of commercial availability, augmented by a quarterly deep dive into patient types initiated, brand perceptions, promotional activity, and drivers and barriers to uptake.

About Market Dynamix™
Market Dynamix™ is an independent service providing analysis of markets anticipated to experience a paradigm shift within the next three to five years. Insights highlight market size, current treatment approaches, unmet needs, and expert opinions on the likely disruption introduced by pipeline agents.

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