FDA grants accelerated approval for ADUHELM™ as the first and only Alzheimer’s disease treatment to address a defining pathology of the disease
By: Colorado BioScience Association Date: 06/07/2021
— Biogen (Nasdaq: BIIB) and Eisai, Co., Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted accelerated approval for ADUHELM™ (aducanumab-avwa) as the first and only Alzheimer’s disease treatment to address a defining pathology of the disease by reducing amyloid beta plaques in the brain.
The accelerated approval has been granted based on data from clinical trials demonstrating the effect of ADUHELM on reducing amyloid beta plaques, a biomarker that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit, in this case a reduction in clinical decline. Continued approval for ADUHELM’s indication as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease may be contingent upon verification of clinical benefit in confirmatory trial(s).
“This historic moment is the culmination of more than a decade of groundbreaking research in the complex field of Alzheimer’s disease. We believe this first-in-class medicine will transform the treatment of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and spark continuous innovation in the years to come,” said Michel Vounatsos, Chief Executive Officer at Biogen. “We are grateful for the contributions of thousands of patients and caregivers who participated in our clinical trials, as well as for the dedication of our scientists and researchers. Together with the healthcare community, we are ready to bring this new medicine to patients and begin to address this growing global health crisis.”
“Eisai has been working on the creation of new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease since the early 80s through our relentless pursuit to understand the root causes of this disease, and we have spent more than a quarter of a century with people living with Alzheimer’s disease to understand their needs,” said Haruo Naito, Chief Executive Officer at Eisai. “We are very pleased to be able to open a new chapter in the history of Alzheimer’s disease treatment with the approval of ADUHELM. This approval has the potential to bring hope to the future of global health, society and, most importantly, the patients and their families, and represents a great step toward the advancement of holistic ecosystem solutions for this devastating disease.”
The efficacy of ADUHELM was evaluated in two Phase 3 clinical trials—EMERGE (Study 1) and ENGAGE (Study 2)—in patients with early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (mild cognitive impairment and mild dementia) with confirmed presence of amyloid pathology. The effects of ADUHELM were also assessed in the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, dose-ranging Phase 1b study, PRIME (Study 3). In these studies, ADUHELM consistently showed a dose- and time-dependent effect on the lowering of amyloid beta plaques (by 59 percent [p<0.0001] in ENGAGE, 71 percent [p<0.0001] in EMERGE, and 61 percent [p<0.0001] in PRIME).
The ADUHELM safety profile is well characterized in over 3,000 patients who received at least one dose of ADUHELM. The most frequently reported adverse event was radiographic detection of events termed Amyloid Related Imaging Abnormalities, or “ARIA.” ARIA (-E and/or -H) was observed in 41 percent of patients treated with ADUHELM 10 mg/kg compared to 10 percent of patients on placebo. Clinical symptoms were present in 24 percent of patients treated with ADUHELM 10 mg/kg who had an observation of ARIA (-E and/or -H), compared to 5 percent of patients on placebo. The most common symptom in patients with ARIA was headache. Other symptoms associated with ARIA included confusion, dizziness, visual disturbances, and nausea. Adverse reactions that were reported in at least 2 percent of patients treated with ADUHELM and at least 2 percent more frequently than in patients on placebo were ARIA-E, headache, ARIA-H microhemorrhage, ARIA-H superficial siderosis, fall, diarrhea, and confusion/delirium/altered mental status/disorientation.
As part of the accelerated approval, Biogen will conduct a controlled trial to verify the clinical benefit of ADUHELM in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Stephen Salloway, Director of Neurology and the Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital, said, “This approval represents a major advance in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. By reducing amyloid beta plaques in the brain, we are addressing one of the defining pathologies of the disease. People with Alzheimer’s disease, together with their doctors, can now decide if the treatment is right for them.”
“Today’s approval of ADUHELM is a transformational breakthrough in the fight to stop this horrible disease. After years of disappointment and despair, this decision offers new hope for many families and a trigger for future investment and innovation,” said George Vradenburg, Chairman and Co-Founder of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. “Because ADUHELM was studied in people with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, it will be important for our nation’s healthcare system—patients, providers and payers—to be ready for earlier detection, diagnosis and intervention in the treatment of the disease.”
Find out more in the Biogen press release.