Health policy expert Joe Grogan writes:
Another Alzheimer’s drug has yielded promising results, demonstrating a 35% decline in early-disease progression in a trial of 1,736 patients after 18 months. Donanemab, made by Eli Lilly, represents the strongest showing against Alzheimer’s to date. This success follows the Food and Drug Administration’s accelerated approval in January of lecanemab—a similar treatment from Biogenand Eisai—which showed a 27% decline in a trial of 1,795 patients after 18 months.
Yet the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is denying seniors and their families access to these treatments, and rebuffing innovators who have produced the biggest breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s in two decades. Such regulatory overreach must stop.
This is from Joe Grogan, “The Agency Keeping Alzheimer’s Drugs From Patients
,” Wall Street Journal
, May 4, 2023 (May 5 print edition.)
I respect Joe Grogan a lot. He’s a very sharp guy with whom I generally agree on drug policy. But on this issue I disagree. He thinks that taxpayers should pay for these expensive treatments. I think they shouldn’t. I’m glad that the FDA allowed the drug; it should allow more. But that doesn’t mean that taxpayers should pay. Moreover, refusing to subsidize someone for a particular treatment should not be called, as Grogan does, “regulatory overreach.”
Maybe the difference between Joe Grogan and me is over how we view Medicare. Medicare is socialized medicine and I want to move in the direction of limiting and reducing socialized medicine. I want people to take more responsibility for paying for their own medical treatments and not put that on taxpayers. The case holds a fortiori for drugs that have less evidence in their favor, especially when they are so high-priced,
By the way, I’ve written on a related Alzheimer’s drug before (here
) and I notice (somehow I missed it) that co-blogger Scott Sumner has written cogently
on this also and, indeed, beat me to the punch.