(Reuters) - An influential drug pricing research group said Eisai Co Ltd and Biogen Inc's new Alzheimer's disease treatment lecanemab should be priced lower than the drug Aduhelm that was developed by the companies.
In a draft report released on Thursday, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) said a price range of between $8,500 and $20,600 annually for lecanemab would meet some commonly used thresholds for cost effectiveness.
Biogen halved the price of its first Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm last year to $28,200 for a person with average weight, amid tepid sales and reimbursement hurdles.
Treatment with lecanemab for patients with Alzheimer's appears to be "promising but inconclusive," ICER said.
Eisai urged ICER to consider the "important value of the voices of those" impacted by Alzheimer's disease as the group works to finalize its report.
ICER is not a government agency and has no authority to set prices, but many large health insurers take their reports into account when they negotiate prices. Some manufacturers also take into account the ICER recommendations when they set prices.
The characterization by ICER is "less than glowing", but lecanemab beats out other available options for treatment of Alzheimer's, Wells Fargo analyst Mohit Bansal said.
Eisai in November said lecanemab reduced the rate of cognitive decline on a clinical dementia scale by 27%, compared with a placebo.
Treatment with the drug may provide a small or even substantial benefit to patients with early Alzheimer's, but there remains a possibility of net harm due to brain-swelling side effects, according to ICER.
Shares of Eisai fell on Friday after a report of a third death in a trial of lecanemab. The company confirmed the death to Reuters and said it was investigating the cause.
(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)
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