TOKYO: (Xinhua) -- Haruo Naito, the head of Japanese pharmaceutical firm Eisai Co., said Wednesday that while a new drug for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease could be revolutionary, its cost should reflect its "multifaceted value."
The new drug Aduhelm, jointly developed by Eisai and U.S pharmaceutical firm Biogen Inc., was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday.
But its 56,000-U.S.-dollar-a-year price tag has triggered concerns that many patients would be unable to afford the drug.
The new drug, the first of its kind, can purportedly eliminate beta-amyloid clumps in the brain believed to cause the disease and slow their ability to destroy neurons and, thus, cognitive decline.
In an online meeting with investors and media outlets, Naito said the pricing of the drug, the scientific name of which is aducanumab, should be based on a number of factors.
"The cost of Alzheimer's disease care has a notable characteristic. That is the patients' families have to spend more for caregiving than medical treatment. We need to assess various aspects that the price of the drug should reflect," he said.
Naito said that low income earners should not be prohibited from receiving the drug. The fact that caregivers' job opportunities are limited by their duties and the patients themselves may need to receive residential care in special homes for a long duration, also adds to families' financial burdens, he said.
He said the drug, the first new therapy for Alzheimer's disease in almost 20 years, would be used by up to 2 million patients in the United States and around 1 million in Japan.
In order to make the drug affordable to those on low incomes, Naito said he would liaise and collaborate with insurance companies, financial institutions and non-governmental organizations. Enditem