Are the Newest Anti-Alzheimer’s Medicines Being Evaluated Under Outdated Pricing Paradigms?

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Charles S. Wilcox, Ph.D., M.P.A., M.B.A.


The 2021 approval of aducanumab in the United States, was not followed by approvals in Europe, Canada, Australia or elsewhere; nonetheless, the initial pricing of $56,00.00/year created a firestorm of controversy. The 2023 Food and Drug Administration approval of lecanemab has been followed by approvals in Japan and China. The current (2024) costs are $26,500 in USA, $20,438 (National Health Insurance) in Japan and $28,180 (private market) in China. In Europe, a health technology assessment will drive coverage decisions and set single-payer prices for each health system for lecanemab and subsequently approved new treatments. For comparison, 2024 average pricing for the top five selling drugs for cancer [$198,273], arthritis [$83,666], hepatitis C [$75,118] and multiple sclerosis [$86,765] far exceed lecanemab’s annual cost. Could there be an anti-brain-health bias?

The International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement notes that patient-centered outcome measures represent the ultimate measure of quality and they are always multi-dimensional. Quality-adjusted life-years (QALY) seem to be absent from the computation of pricing for anti-dementia treatments. Although global consensus on QALY calculations remains elusive, currently extant data are compelling. The QALY calculation is the change in utility value induced by the treatment, which is then multiplied by the duration of treatment effect to provide the number of QALYs gained. QALY ranges differ quite significantly, even amongst the most industrialized nations. Value-based pricing from double-blind, placebo-controlled trial results, demonstrating statistically significant beneficial effects on cognition and/or global function, would reward manufacturers for innovation whilst also enabling payer systems to remain solvent.

Now that the first truly disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer’s (lecanemab) has been approved, a second disease-modifying treatment (donanemab) appears to be heading for regulatory approval as well. The full value of these newest anti-dementia treatments may be understated when quantified under older pricing models and, hence, could unwittingly be a disincentive to further innovation. We now have disease-modifying and symptomatic relief treatments for Alzheimer’s disease to be included within the treating clinicians’ armamentarium and, when priced appropriately, access should be widely available whilst also encouraging further innovative anti-Alzheimer’s clinical research.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s Disease; AD, dementia; Quality-Adjusted Life-Years; QALYs; Disease-Modifying Treatment; DMT; aducanumab; lecanemab; donanemab; value-based pricing; Pharmacy Benefits Managers; PBMs; pricing paradigms; cost-benefit analysis; risk-benefit analysis; health technology assessment; HTA; patient-centered outcome measures.

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WILCOX, Charles S.. Are the Newest Anti-Alzheimer’s Medicines Being Evaluated Under Outdated Pricing Paradigms?. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 12, n. 4, apr. 2024. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 27 may 2024. doi:


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