Current sales of the controversial Alzheimer's treatment Aducanumab will be discontinued, and further development halted, biotechnology firm Biogen said yesterday. The drug's approval in 2021 drew scrutiny over claims there was little evidence it improved outcomes for patients.
Marketed as Aduhelm, the treatment focused on attacking misfolded amyloid proteins—tangled structures in the brain linked to neurodegeneration and which have been implicated in the progression of the disease (the theory itself has recently been called into question). Clinical trials showed mixed results, with one set finding cognitive decline was delayed by around 20% over 18 months at high doses, while a second set showed no significant improvements.
Approval came despite around 40% of high-dose patients experiencing some degree of brain swelling, with 6% leaving the study due to side effects. Separately, a federal panel of outside experts urged the FDA to reject the drug. A congressional probe ultimately concluded federal officials inappropriately fast-tracked the drug, and three officials resigned as a result of the process.
Learn more about the challenges in finding an Alzheimer's cure here.