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Pharmaceuticals

Eisai-Biogen Alzheimer's drug set for use at 300-plus US hospitals: exec

Head of Japanese drugmaker's neurology division bullish on pricey Aduhelm

Some U.S. medical centers have begun administering Aduhelm to patients, an Eisai executive says. (AP/Kyodo)

TOKYO -- The Alzheimer's disease drug developed by Tokyo-based Eisai and U.S. partner Biogen is set to be used by more than 300 American medical institutions and is already being administered to some patients, the head of Eisai's neurology business told Nikkei on Tuesday.

Aducanumab, marketed under the brand name Aduhelm, received conditional approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June under a cloud of doubts. The drug targets plaques in the brain formed by amyloid proteins, believed to be a major cause of Alzheimer's-related dementia.

Eisai has identified 900 or so U.S. medical centers seen as likely to adopt the treatment and has been promoting Aduhelm to them since it received the FDA's green light, said Ivan Cheung, who serves as a senior vice president.

"The number of patients receiving Aduhelm continues to increase week by week," he said.

The drug was approved over the objections of an FDA advisory committee that raised doubts about its effectiveness, and three experts, including a Harvard Medical School professor, resigned from the panel after the decision.

The agency's acting commissioner last month asked the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the FDA, for an investigation into any problems with the approval process.

How many patients actually receive the expensive drug is being closely watched as an indicator of whether it will reach blockbuster status. Some medical centers -- including Mount Sinai Health System, a major New York City hospital operator -- have chosen not to use Aduhelm.

Eisai says that medical institutions that initially took a pass on the drug could introduce it later.

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