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08 December 2023

Japan approves Alzheimer's drug developed by Eisai, Biogen


Japan's health ministry on Monday approved the manufacture and sale of a drug for Alzheimer's developed by Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai and U.S. company Biogen.

Lecanemab, branded Leqembi, will be the first drug in Japan to both treat the underlying cause of Alzheimer's disease and slow the development of its symptoms.

The drug for treating early-stage Alzheimer's and mild cognitive impairment is expected to be made available for use as early as later this year.

The move came after U.S. regulators formally approved lecanemab in July after granting the drug a fast-track conditional approval in early January. In Japan, a health ministry panel gave the green light to its formal approval in late August.

As the drug's standard price is $26,500 per year in the United States, the price in Japan is also likely to be high.

Eisai said clinical trials demonstrated that the new drug curbed the progression of symptoms, such as worsening memory and impaired judgment, by 27% compared with a placebo.

However, some patients taking the drug experienced side effects like brain edema and bleeding, it said.