Probe over Controversial Alzheimer’s Drug’s Approval

Amyloid plaques and neurons. Source: NIAH

The interim commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, Janet Woodcock, MD, last week requested the country’s Office of Inspector General to perform an independent investigation into the regulator’s decision to approve Biogen’s controversial Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm.

Dr Woodcock noted in her letter that there “continues to be concerns raised” regarding the contact between FDA officials and Biogen ahead of the agency’s decision, “including some that may have occurred outside of the formal correspondence process.”

Dr Woodcock’s request comes after a bombshell report from Stat, which found that Biogen executives met with FDA officials, specifically Billy Dunn, MD, director of the FDA’s neuroscience unit, as early as 2019 to discuss a regulatory pathway for Aduhelm. The meetings took place even when it seemed there was no progress for the drug.

Earlier this week, a US House Representative, charged Biogen with “undue influence” over the FDA’s review process. Less than two weeks earlier, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform said it would conduct its own probe into the approval along with Biogen’s pricing strategies.

In the letter from Friday, Dr Woodcock said the agency would fully cooperate with the potential investigation to determine whether any of its interactions with Biogen were inconsistent with FDA policies and procedures.

“Given the ongoing interest and questions, today I requested that @OIGatHHS conduct an independent review and assessment of interactions between representatives of Biogen and FDA during the process that led to the approval of Aduhelm,” tweeted Dr Woodcock.

However, she maintained that she has “tremendous confidence” in the leadership at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, which was involved in the review of Aduhelm.

“We believe this review and assessment will help ensure continued confidence in the integrity of FDA’s regulatory processes and decision-making,” Woodcock said in a tweet.

A spokesperson from Biogen told Fierce Pharma that the company would “of course” cooperate with “any inquiry in connection with a possible review of the regulatory process.”

The commissioner’s request is only the latest event in a bizarre and twisted story since the FDA’s Aduhelm approval just one month prior.

Facing fierce criticism of its wide-labelled approval, the FDA made the surprising move to narrow Aduhelm’s label last week Thursday, restricting the recommendation to just those with milder Alzheimer’s.

This comes after Biogen’s drug was essentially allowed access to the nation’s some 6 million Alzheimer’s patients. That decision was met with almost immediate pushback, as it was pointed out that the drug could overwhelm the payer budgets of most Alzheimer’s patients.

Source: Fierce Pharma

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