Shortly after the controversial Alzheimer's drug it developed with Eisai secured Food and Drug Administration approval on Monday, Biogen announced that it is already securing partnership with major payers to ensure patients can access the drug.
The pharmaceutical company is teaming with CVS Health to launch a new program on brain health, highlighting the importance of screenings and disease education. Screenings will be made available through CVS' Project Health program, which focuses on minority and underserved communities.
The testing will be made available in select markets including Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York City and the District of Columbia beginning in September.
“We all recognize that the optimal delivery of healthcare requires multiple stakeholders working together,” said Sree Chaguturu, M.D., chief medical officer at CVS Caremark, in a statement. “We are committed to addressing systemic health disparities in our country, and this novel initiative is an example of how we can use our enterprise assets and capabilities to make a real difference.”
Industry experts have expressed concern about the drug, aducanumab, and the results it's shown in clinical trials. The FDA said in its approval that it must show additional results in a phase 4 trial or risk the drug being pulled from the shelves.
Due to the lack of clinical evidence, some experts were skeptical that payers would be willing to pick up what is likely to be a major price tag. Biogen is getting out ahead of that fear, however, on Monday also announcing that it is working on a value-based arrangement with Cigna for aducanumab.
Cigna is the parent company of Express Scripts, the largest pharmacy benefit manager in the U.S. Through the agreement, the insurer and drugmaker will streamline the process of getting patients access to the drug while monitoring the effectiveness against several patient outcome metrics.
“Alzheimer’s disease imposes a tremendous burden on patients, caregivers and society as a whole,” said Steve Miller, M.D., executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Cigna, in a statement. “Given the known infrastructure challenges in the U.S., we are working to ensure that the patients who will benefit most from this new treatment have a clear path to access it.”