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Study Reveals Massive Waste with Fixed Vial Sizes

If aducanumab is approved for widespread use, discarded vials could cost Medicare enrollees as much as $605 million a year.

Study Medicare Could Waste Up To 605 M On Alzheimers Drug Vials

Aducanumab is Biogen’s expensive drug used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Each patient requires a different dose depending on their weight and amyloid plaque rates, but the vials only come in two sizes: 170 mg and 300 mg. Any leftover solution is discarded. A recent UPI article discussed a study, funded by The National Institutes of Health and conducted at UCLA, that explored the estimated annual waste associated with fixed vials.

The drug received accelerated approval from the FDA last year. Medicare has restricted its use in clinical trials, but the decision could be overturned by appeal or legal challenge, which could open the floodgates for sales and thus more waste. Authors of the study calculated the wasted dosage in a nationally representative survey sample and the results were surprising. Assuming a conservative 10% drug uptake, up to 694,258 vials would be discarded, which would result in an annual waste of $605 million by Medicare for its enrollees. That’s a lot of waste for a drug that has been found to have little to no benefit for sufferers of Alzheimer’s.

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