FDA official behind Alzheimer’s drug scandal steps down

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Congressional Quarterly)

The Food and Drug Administration official who allegedly had an inappropriately cozy relationship with the maker of the controversial Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm, is stepping down from his role, effective immediately, according to numerous media reports.

Billy Dunn, head of the FDA’s neuroscience office, has been with the agency for around 18 years, during which he was involved in several high-profile drug approvals. But he gained notoriety in the wake of the shocking 2021 approval of Aduhelm, a drug has not been shown to be effective against Alzheimer’s and carries risks of serious brain swelling.

In 2020, the FDA’s independent advisory committee voted nearly unanimously that the agency should not approve the drug (11 of 12 committee members voted against, with one voting “uncertain”). Yet, the approval went through anyway, and Aduhelm’s maker, Biogen, went on to set the exorbitant price of $56,000 for a year’s worth of treatment. Outside researchers called the approval “disgraceful,” three advisory members resigned in protest, and Medicare Part B premiums rose by record amounts to accommodate covering the pricey drug for Alzheimer’s patients desperate for new treatments.

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