Biogen's Aduhelm win opened up market frenzy for Alzheimer's-focused companies

Companies working on Alzheimer’s disease treatments were chugging along with the occasional blip in their stock price. And then came Aduhelm.

The FDA’s controversial decision to approve Biogen’s Alzheimer’s treatment on June 7 sent shares of a select group of publicly traded biotechs working on the neurodegenerative disorder on a wild ride, according to a Fierce Biotech analysis.

Before the approval, the stocks traded together in a thick band. Now, the group—which includes, of course, Biogen, Eli Lilly and Prothena—has scattered in an upward trajectory, with some launching off from the pack. 

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The analysis also included Cassava Sciences, Anavex Life Sciences, Cortexyme, Biogen’s Japanese partner Eisai, Synaptogenix, Biohaven Pharmaceutical, Athira Pharma and Longeveron.


When the FDA announced its decision, industry watchers predicted Biogen’s controversial win would really be felt in executive boardrooms elsewhere, with companies reviving therapies that had long been passed over.

So far, that's proven out. Eli Lilly, which is moving its once-abandoned therapy donanemab to an accelerated review filing, was projected to be a big winner, and indeed the Big Pharma’s shares have soared 17% since the FDA nod.

Major pharmaceutical companies tend to have a steady stock price, and it takes a big event to move the needle. Lilly’s shares jumped from $202 apiece on June 7 to $236 as of 11:30 a.m. ET on July 14.

And it's no wonder, given the revenue that could come from a successful Alzheimer's program. GlobalData estimates that Aduhelm could pull in $5.5 billion globally by 2027. Biogen and Eisai could be up for another $684 million by 2026 if their follow-up treatment lecanemab is also approved. Lilly, meanwhile, could snag up to $858 million by 2026.

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Looking closer at the data, the Alzheimer's stocks began a slight upward trend a month before Aduhelm, when little-known biotech Annovis announced that a treatment it's developing improved cognition in a phase 2 trial.

Annovis’ shares have remained an outlier, rising from $26.40 on May 21 to $119 as of Wednesday.

Prothena is another Alzheimer’s company that’s trending higher than the pack. The company has two Alzheimer’s therapies in development, PRX005 and PRX012, and recently offloaded its ATTR amyloidosis program to Novo Nordisk, allowing a deeper focus on the rest of the pipeline.

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Plenty of speculation on whether the FDA would approve Aduhelm also drove share-price moves, and, with massive revenue at stake, it’s no wonder the market has gone mad over the new regulatory pathway Aduhelm opened up.

With Alzheimer’s, it seems that success for one is a boon for all.