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Alzheimer’s patients get a fresh jolt as Lilly ends clinical trial prematurely

Despite the continuing research and clinical studies, Alzheimer’s disease remains a hard nut to crack, but the real challenge facing pharmaceuticals companies is the unsuccessful clinical trials that cost them dearly. Though there are medicines to treat the cognitive and behavioral symptoms to some extent, no breakthrough has been achieved yet in developing drugs that can change the course of the disease in a meaningful way.

Adding to the list of the many failed studies on Alzheimer’s drugs in recent times – the most recent being vTv Therapeutics’ azeliragon – Eli Lilly (LLY) Tuesday said it halted two advanced trials on lanabecestat, its experimental formulation for the treatment of the crippling brain disorder that destroys patients’ memory.

The study, conducted in association with UK-based AstraZeneca (AZN), was discontinued after it failed to meet the endpoints of effectively treating early-stage Alzheimer’s and moderate memory loss associated with the disease.

The pharma world is witnessing a renewed vigor in the development of therapeutics for Alzheimer’s and dementia after recent research provided a better understanding of the DNA damage in the affected patients. The healthcare industry has been spending billions of dollars on development of experimental clinical formulations that can slow down the progress of the disease.

Lilly halted two advanced trials on lanabecestat, its experimental formulation for Alzheimer’s disease

Meanwhile, the good news for Lilly investors is that the company has reaffirmed its outlook for the current fiscal year and the next two years, saying the costs associated with the discontinued clinical trials are not significant enough to impact the financial performance.

The outcome of the study on lanabecestat came as no surprise to most analysts who have generally been pessimistic about the various clinical trials being carried out in the field, considering the back-to-back failures suffered by pharma companies in the past.

Earlier, Merck & Co. (MRK) had to discontinue its multi-level studies on verubecestat after they showed no signs of yielding the desired results. The setbacks underscore the complexity and mysterious nature of the devastating health problem. It is estimated that in the absence of effective therapeutic solutions, the US government will be spending more than $1 trillion on Alzheimer’s care by 2050.

Eli Lilly’s stock, which made some modest gains since the beginning of the year, traded slightly lower in the early hours of Tuesday’s session.

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