Japan OKs Insurance Coverage for Novel Alzheimer’s Drug

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry

Tokyo (Jiji Press)—A Japanese health ministry advisory panel Wednesday approved public medical insurance coverage for a novel Alzheimer’s drug developed by Japanese drugmaker Eisai Co. and its U.S. partner Biogen Inc.

The decision was made by the Central Social Insurance Medical Council, which advises the health minister.

The state-set official price of the drug is expected to be ¥2.98 million per year for a patient weighing 50 kilograms.

The drug, lecanemab, will be covered with public medical insurance from Dec. 20 and be put into clinical use by the end of the year at the earliest.

The ministry approved the production and sale of the drug in Japan in late September.

In the United States, the drug was formally approved in July, with its wholesale price standing at $26,500 per year.

In Japan, expensive drugs are covered by the so-called high-cost medical expense benefit system, which caps patients’ out-of-pocket costs, so most of the expenses for lecanemab will be shouldered by public medical insurance.

The drug is expected to slow the progression of symptoms in patients in the early stages of the disease.

In a clinical trial, 18-month administration of the drug to such patients reduced the decline in cognitive function by 27 pct compared with patients who were not administered the drug, according to Eisai.