IBJNews

Lilly's Alzheimer's drug trials show mixed results

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Eli Lilly and Co.’s experimental Alzheimer’s drug failed to meet its primary goals in two separate clinical trials. However, when the results of both trials were combined, the drug appeared to have slowed the decline of cognition in some patients.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker announced the mixed clinical trial results Friday morning. The drug, called solanezumab, was studied in a total of more than 2,000 patients with mild or moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

The drugmaker's stock rose 7.5 percent  in premarket trading.

Lilly’s analysis of the data after the trial showed that solanezumab slowed cognitive decline in mild Alzheimer’s patients but not in moderate ones.

The finding, in a subgroup of patients, wasn’t expected by analysts and investors, who had given the drug a less than 20 percent chance of showing any benefit.

That finding is a first for any drug trying to combat the memory-sapping malady, which afflicts 5 million Americans and 18 million people worldwide. Lilly is trying to make solanezumab the first drug to successfully fight the progress of Alzheiemr’s disease, which, if successful, is almost certain to generate billions of dollars per year in sales.

A similar-acting medicine from Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson failed to show a benefit earlier this month. If approved for a wide population of Alzheimer’s sufferers, the treatment may “transform” Lilly and bring in $5 billion to $10 billion in annual sales, said Goldman Sachs analyst Jami Rubin in a note to clients last month. That would be much needed revenue for Lilly as it braces to lose $7 billion from generic competition over the next five years.

"We recognize that the solanezumab studies did not meet their primary endpoints, but we are encouraged by the pooled data that appear to show a slowing of cognitive decline," said Lilly CEO John Lechleiter in a prepared statement. "We intend to discuss these data with regulatory authorities to gain their insights on potential next steps."

That could include another clinical trial of solanezumab aimed at patients with who have yet to develop full-blown Alzheimer’s symptoms. That’s because recent research has shown that that suspected causes of Alzheimer’s disease begin 10 or even 20 years before a patient can be diagnosed with the disease.

Lilly’s drug solanezumab fights Alzheimer’s by trying to remove a protein called amyloid beta from patients’ brains. The build-up amyloid into clumps and plaques is believed by many to stop the functioning of neurons, leading to memory loss and eventually death.

The only other therapy in late-stage testing is Baxter International Inc.’s Gammagard. The product is an expensive, relatively scarce treatment derived from donated blood plasma that replaces antibodies in people whose immune systems can’t protect them from infection. Results from a final-stage study on whether it could slow or stop Alzheimer’s may be available next year.

Lilly lost patent protection last year on its top-seller Zyprexa for schizophrenia and will lose the patent next year for its second-best seller, the anti-depressant Cymbalta. The drugs combined for 36 percent of Lilly’s 2011 revenue.

Lechleiter has said the company’s annual revenue will not be less than $20 billion and profit will remain more than $3 billion through 2014. In 2011, Lilly brought in revenue of $24.3 billion with a profit of $4.35 billion.

Lilly has 11 other medicines in late-stage testing, six of which may generate more than $1 billion each in peak annual sales, said Jeffrey Holford, an analyst with Jefferies Group Inc. in New York. Sales from those drugs won’t come soon enough to overcome the losses Lilly faces through at least 2017, he said.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

ADVERTISEMENT