Government Claims Credit for Alzheimer’s Breakthrough

Liberals believe the government is the solution to all problems. In keeping with this thinking, the Biden Administration wants to take the credit for a new Alzheimer’s drug they had nothing to do with.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board rightly reminds us that President Barack Obama declared that businesses owed their success to the government. “You didn’t build that,” he said. No, that business you started in your garage years ago and built into a successful enterprise was really not your success – it was the government’s success.

Now, the National Institutes of Health is claiming credit for Biogen’s new Alzheimer’s treatment that showed success in a large trial last week. “Potentially promising outcomes such as this one are the result of sustained public investment in medical research, the tireless work of scientists around the world, and the help of people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers,” the NIH wrote in a press release this week.

You might think the NIH funded the study – but you would be wrong! Although the NIH didn’t fund the successful study, it says its “decades of research paved the way” for it. Next thing you know they’ll want not only the credit but the royalties.

WSJ says, “Sorry. The Biogen drug’s apparent success is mainly the result of sustained private investment in drug research and development over many decades that has resulted in dozens of failures and billions of dollars in investment write-offs. Biogen may finally recoup some of its investment with its new Alzheimer’s drug, if the Biden Administration will let it.”

It has long been believed that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the buildup of proteins called amyloid in the brain. Many scientists believe that removing amyloid from the brain could slow cognitive decline. But the long line of failed amyloid treatments has prompted skepticism by some. Many dismissed Biogen’s first-in-class amyloid drug Aduhelm despite positive results from one late-stage trail because another trial showed mixed results.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Aduhelm based on the totality of evidence. But Medicare refused to pay for it and other anti-amyloid treatments that might win accelerated government approval outside of clinical trials because it wasn’t convinced that removing amyloid can slow the disease. Last I checked, it wasn’t the job of Medicare to decide if drugs are effective – that’s the FDA’s job.

Biogen’s new drug is called Lecanemab. There is evidence this drug can remove amyloid and even the NIH seems to agree. Lecanemab slowed the rate of cognitive decline by 27% over 18 months, similar to Aduhelm. In order to claim credit for this success, the NIH says, “government funding was integral to helping us understand the role of amyloid, the protein targeted by lecanemab.”

But WSJ says Biogen and other drug makers took the risk of investing multiples of that in experimental treatments with no guarantee that it would ever pay off. It was Biogen who decided to screen patient brains specifically for amyloid in their trials, yet NIH even tries to claim credit for this revelation, writing that the “selection of participants for lecanemab clinical trials hinged on amyloid PET imaging, a technology that was developed with publicly funded research.”

If you think this argument is all about money, you’re right. The NIH is essentially claiming intellectual ownership of Biogen’s drug. WSJ asks, “Will the NIH also demand inventor rights to Biogen’s patents so it can earn royalties on its drug sales, as it did with Moderna for its Covid-19 vaccines because its scientists contributed to coronavirus vaccine research?”

The Biden Administration loves to paint drug makers as greedy and unconcerned about patients. The recently passed “Inflation Reduction Act” allows the government to place price controls on drugs covered by Medicare, which will only lead to fewer new drugs like lecanemab. (The Real Cost of Lowering Drug Prices) It seems this government wants it both ways – credit for lowering drug prices and credit also for those drugs developed without their funding. Now who’s greedy?

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