Closeup of gloved hands preparing an infusion bottle

Neurologists are very aware of Biogen’s newly approved Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab — brand-name Aduhelm — but few have prescribed it so far, a real-time marketing study of the brand’s launch found. 

Despite being the first-ever disease-modifying therapy to be marketed to Alzheimer’s patients, very few specialists surveyed between June 30 and July 6 said they saw aducanumab as a “substantial advance” in treatment, according to market research company Spherix. The first patients were given Aduhelm in mid-June, and only 3% of neurologists reported prescribing the monthly infusion monoclonal antibody to their patients, a report on the study by Fierce Pharma noted.

Respondents estimated that only 1 in 7 patients would be considered candidates for Aduhelm, a monoclonal antibody that is administered via infusion. A subsequent label revision by Biogen that recommends the treatment only for patients with mild dementia could further lower that estimate, Spherix said.

There is pent-up patient demand, added Spherix, but Aduhelm will likely continue to be slow in gaining prescribers, the company concluded. Less than half of the neurologists surveyed predicted that they will become adopters within the first six months of availability. Long-term care physicians, meanwhile, have recommended that the drug not be prescribed to nursing home residents before it is tested in a group that’s representative of that population.

Despite a controversial rollout, which left many in doubt about clinical trials evidence and uncertain about the Food and Drug Administration’s role in approval, more makers of Alzheimer’s monoclonal antibody drugs are projected to follow Aduhelm’s path in seeking federal approval for use. Eli Lilly’s donanemab — recently given breakthrough designation — and Genentech’s gantenerumab could be approved as the second and third Alzheimer’s disease-modifying therapy within two years, Spherix reported.

Related stories:

AMDA: Don’t prescribe Aduhelm to long-term care residents without more testing

FDA limits use of new dementia drug Aduhelm to mild cognitive impairment only

CMS to weigh national Medicare coverage for Aduhelm, other Alzheimer’s drugs