Finding new treatments for serious diseases like Alzheimer’s is big business, but it has not proven easy for the pharmaceutical industry. Both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson both abandoned their Alzheimer’s drugs in late-stage trials, but Eli Lilly is hoping it can be the pioneer. But is this new treatment just another spin on an ineffective drug hoping to tap into a $10 billion market?
The drug, called solanezumab, failed to slow erosion of memory and basic skills in two late-stage drug trials. But Lilly did not give up on the drug, and this week released the results of another trial that showed it slowed memory loss by 20% in patients with mild Alzheimer’s.
The company admits that these numbers are not statistically significant, but still claims that the drug is something to be excited about.
Instead of trying to create a drug to treat the more aggressive and serious forms of Alzheimer’s, Lilly is choosing to continue justifying pursuit of this barely-effective treatment. After all, the drug giant is losing patent protection on some of its blockbuster drugs such as Cymbalta, and a drug that can be marketed to healthy people with a family history of Alzheimer’s might be just the answer it’s been looking for.
The drug will go through another long-term study to further test its efficacy.