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Biogen’s New Alzheimers Drug not Offered by Mass General Brigham

Mass General Brigham, the state’s largest health-care provider, announced Tuesday that it will not treat patients with Biogen’s controversial new Alzheimer’s medicine, a further blow for the Cambridge firm and its costly treatment. The network, which includes the flagships Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is the second major US health care institution to reject monthly infusions of the medicine, known as Aduhelm, due to safety and effectiveness concerns.

After considering the risks and benefits of the drug, the Cleveland Clinic, Mount Sinai Health System in New York, and Providence in Renton, Wash., all made similar decisions in July. However, due of its proximity to Biogen, Mass General Brigham decision is particularly significant. According to Bridget Perry, a Mass General Brigham spokesman, the decision was made on Sept. 20 by the hospital system’s Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, a team of drug experts who assessed the $56,000-a-year treatment.

According to a statement released by Mass General Brigham, the examination included a “thorough analysis of clinical, economic, and operational considerations.” Biogen reacted angrily at the decision. Biogen said in a statement, “Patients and their families deserve to have choice and access to FDA-approved treatments, including the only Alzheimer’s disease treatment that addresses a defining pathology of the disease. It is disappointing that Massachusetts General Hospital has chosen to deny patients that choice.”

Aduhelm is a monoclonal antibody derived from the immune cells of elderly adults who are not experiencing or have seen unusually modest cognitive loss. It lowers amyloid, a sticky protein that gathers into plaque in Alzheimer’s patients’ brains. Biogen and some doctors claim that amyloid buildup is to blame for the cognitive impairment that characterises the fatal neurological disease, but this is unproven and hotly debated.

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