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Biogen's Case For Aduhelm For Alzheimer's

Jul. 27, 2021 1:36 AM ETBiogen Inc. (BIIB)25 Comments
William Meyers profile picture
William Meyers


  • Aduhelm was approved by the FDA for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Controversy about that decision has knocked down Biogen’s stock price.
  • Biogen and the FDA have presented strong arguments to prescribe Aduhelm.

Woman spending time with her elderly mother
PIKSEL/iStock via Getty Images

Biogen (NASDAQ:BIIB) has become well known to both investors and the public of late due to the controversy over the FDA approval of Biogen’s Alzheimer’s therapy Aduhelm. The publicity has been mostly negative, with FDA Advisory

This article was written by

William Meyers profile picture
I provided stock and bond research and analysis to a small cap specialist investor, Lloyd Miller, from 2002 until his death in January 2018. For my own account I invest mainly in technology and biotechnology stocks. My technology and investment web site is openicon.com, where readers can view the notes I take to make decisions and to write articles for Seeking Alpha.

Analyst’s Disclosure: I/we have a beneficial long position in the shares of BIIB either through stock ownership, options, or other derivatives. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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Comments (25)

William Meyers profile picture
Also, academic and science egos were at stake. A lot of researchers, to get grants and publication, switched from the plaque hypothesis to other trying to prove there were other causes of A. Inhibiting plaque formation and showing that slowed decline blew their careers out of the water. Some of the FDA Independent Committee were in that boat.
I'm trying to understand the history and rationale for Aduhelm. So, "The primary endpoint was slowing cognitive and functional impairment". This seems to mean the goal was that the patients would get worse, but more slowly. They did not meet this goal, so it's fair to say they got worse at the usual rate. Then, after being off the drug for six months, there was an improvement, or a slower worsening. Wouldn't this indicate the possibility that the drug either did nothing, or was making the subjects worse, and being off the drug was actually a benefit? Then the FDA states, essentially, the drug does not work, but approves it anyway? And you can have this for $56,000 per person per year? As an aside, this type of price tag is unconscionable, even for a drug that works.

Certainly appreciate the information, but it strains credulity to think this drug is going to help patients, or Biogen's bottom line. Seems unlikely any new trials would be undertaken, and on the present information, the drug seems useless.
Plan Man profile picture
SAVA just had data that blew BIIB out of the water. Not only did they have the first study to show improvement at 9 months but improvement is significant and climbing vs 6 months and there is a significant reduction in behavioral episodes making care safer and cheaper and drastically improving quality of life. It also won't cost 50K for a treatment that BIIB had previously called futile before the cash grab. BIIB may loose all credibility in the next 6 months given harm done selling snake oil vs a actual treatment. BIIB should be ashamed of itself and so should the FDA because now a real treatment seems imminent and they will have to undo damaging confusion done by BIIB/FDA due to confusion and mistrust over the crap BIIB is selling.

@Plan Man evidently the street was not impressed
Plan Man profile picture
@jriver Lol. True dat. Part of the issue was some articles coming out repeating 6 month issues. I feel confident that buying while down with good data will yeild results and the data was so good with continuous improvement that I'm not to worried. When it goes up I'll sell half and keep half.
FDA and BIIB have provided NO STRONG ARUMENTS to prescribe this crap. Cooked study data from manufacture and politically motivated approval by the regulator do not change this. The point will be mooted however when real drugs ARE approved and supplant this crap.
charged profile picture
Where are the scientific/medical supporters ? I haven’t read of any support other than wallstreet ?
charged profile picture
Smells worse daily, adcom vote, advisory groups object, publications cancelled. Stinky smelly stuff.
Plan Man profile picture
@charged compare to every 3 mo the for SAVA's drug which is improving cognition and reducing behavioral episodes.
The palque and memory loss at this time is the chicken and the egg story.
It is a well researched article and have put in a lot of your time. Congratulations.
My mini-crystal ball tells me :
- Biogen will have a very rough time getting sales. Market access will not be easy. I see an initial blip in sales related to rich folks desperate to try something on their loved ones.
- I then see this blip levelling off as new patients struggle through coverage of the product.
- I see as next steps Lilly entering the market.
- I see pressure from 2 Cos. on some PBMs for coverage.
- Now the purse strings will slowly loosen and sales will start rising.
- Investment group forecasts will always be higher than actual sales increase.
Just my personal thoughts. and beliefs.
@Plan Man only time will tell.
charged profile picture
You tell me you believe but you give me no proof. This still smells like bad fish. Where’s the real proof ?
Arguing that medics aren't well trained in statistics so they can't understand cereal box-level of stats. Ok, so you're betting on functional illiteracy got it
ArtfulDodger profile picture
WM wrote: "Doctors are not typically well-trained in statistics, patients even less so, and journalists usually not at all."

Comment: Let it be said, indeed! And neither are most buyers and sellers of stocks.

A lot of good info in this piece, especially regarding the potential BIIB has in its pipeline. Also in the fact that, in a lot of cases Aduhelm does certainly do some good. Compare that to the drugs that are already in action. You get + versus 0.

I myself long ago deserted the theory that the amyloid plagues were the cause of Alzheimer's. Rather, they are a result of the inflammation that has come about in the brain for some reason researchers are sure of.

Therefore, in my view, Aduhelm has no chance of curing Alzheimer's. But for sick folks who have a horrible degenerative disease, it can surely bring them some relief.

William Meyers profile picture
@ArtfulDodger There is the question of what initiates the deterioration process, with results like amyloid plaques and memory loss. There is a lot more science to be done. Even if we understand what starts the process (perhaps inflammation, perhaps aging of neurons, perhaps any of a number of things) we will still need therapies to deal with the results and thereby slow deterioration. I do not want to overstate how good Aduhelm is. I hope more research results in better therapies, and the sooner the better.
ArtfulDodger profile picture
@William Meyers We do know that inflammation is a symptom, a result of some type of infection or disease—not a cause! Everyone is supposed to know that inflammation is not a disease; something has to cause it.

If doctors were to go back to that well-known point, they might be able to knock a disease out rather than simply treating a symptom.

A few years back I thought that was going to happen. But things suddenly flipped back onto treating symptoms.

So then, here we are.

@William Meyers Don't want to overstate the benefits? Even saying it does ANY good is at present questionable. It truly appears to me that you are just talking your book.
Just keep in mind that Biogen Idec is a lot more than just Aduhelm. Many more drugs in their pipeline! Longz BIIB! :-)
Salil Rajadhyaksha profile picture
@magenta17 agree. There are quite a few catalysts ...
Plan Man profile picture
Edited for spelling due to phone in moving vehicle and autocorrect.

@magenta17 agreed. There are more catalysts. However, not for Alzheimer's and please include the damage to BIIB image that they got from selling snake oil in their evaluation. Tens of thousands will avoid their products if they can, maybe millions given the change in doctor sentiment. Maybe it wasn't intentional to bilk people and they had millions of write in requests saying we know it might not work but please give us hope. Even if that was the case they screwed the pooch in front of the family. There is no forgetting the time BIIB decided to steal from taxpayers when they admitted their drug was hopeless and previously dropped it when the FDA recommendations unanimously advised to deny usage.

I'd recommend waiting until after the eventual name change to buy BIIB.
@Plan Man You can’t write off BIIB080 yet.
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