News from the FDA/CDC

Alzheimer’s Association to CMS: Ditch restraints on amyloid drugs


 

The Alzheimer’s Association has filed a formal request with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that it provide full and unrestricted coverage for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In a letter addressed to CMS administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, MPP, the association has asked the agency to remove the requirements for “coverage with evidence development” in its national coverage determination for FDA-approved anti-amyloid monoclonal antibodies.

The CMS coverage restrictions for anti-amyloid drugs were finalized in April on the basis of data available at the time.

Since then, new data from the CLARITY AD trial “clearly demonstrate a meaningful clinical benefit” from the investigational anti-amyloid agent lecanemab (Eisai/Biogen), Robert Egge, chief public policy officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, told this news organization.

The CLARITY AD results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Lecanemab is currently under accelerated review at the FDA.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s letter to the CMS includes a joint statement signed by more than 200 AD researchers and experts. All agree that the lecanemab results represent “significant new evidence” that necessitates reconsidering the restrictions on anti-amyloid agents.

“CMS has said it would look at new evidence, and now that evidence is here. We believe CMS recognizes this evidence for lecanemab is stronger than that for many treatments Medicare routinely covers,” Mr. Egge said.

‘No time to waste’

“With the timing of accelerated approvals for both lecanemab and donanemab in the next few months, the Alzheimer’s Association wants to ensure, if approved, that patients can access these treatments,” Mr. Egge noted.

“Because revisions to National Coverage Determinations can be a lengthy process, CMS needs to act quickly to minimize delays. People living with Alzheimer’s disease don’t have time to waste,” he added.

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that every day, more than 2,000 individuals aged 65 or older may transition from mild dementia due to AD to a more advanced stage of the disease in which they may no longer be eligible for lecanemab and the other anti-amyloid agents currently being tested.

“Each day matters when it comes to slowing the progression of this disease,” Joanne Pike, DrPH, president and incoming chief executive officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, noted in a news release.

“The current CMS policy to severely limit access to these treatments eliminates people’s options, is resulting in continued irreversible disease progression, and contributes to greater health inequities. That’s not acceptable,” Dr. Pike said.

A version of this article first appeared on Medscape.com.

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