Analysts swoon again on solanezumab hopes

Share this article:
Despite the August 24 announcement that Lilly's experimental Alzheimer's drug solanezumab had failed to meet its Phase III targets, some analysts are staying positive about the therapy.

The enthusiasm is taking on two distinct flavors, the first being the possibility that there is life in the drug yet. Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson wrote September 5 that even if the company dials back its patient audience to include mild or pre-Alzheimer's patients, approval of a low-efficacy drug could have sales of $7.5 billion in 2020, or $12,500 for a year's worth of prescriptions.

The other angle is the pure research benefit. Lilly is expected to release the full findings of its Expedition study at two conferences next month, and both Barclay's analyst Tony Butler and the Alzheimer's Association have written that Lilly's trials will show whether attacking beta-amyloid is the right way to combat the degenerative disease.

In other words: failures or adjusted expectations will determine the best places to funnel money, in terms of  investments and/or research.

On the cautionary side, analysts noted even before Lilly announced the drug's unimpressive Phase III results that they hadn't built success into company assessments.

The addition would be a critical one to Lilly's neuroscience unit, which is the major earner in a treatment portfolio that consists of the relatively weaker endocrinology, oncology, cardiovascular and animal health divisions. It's also the category that is loaded with significant patent issues. Antidepressant Zyprexa, which accounted for 19% of total 2011 revenues, went generic in October 2011. Cymbalta, another antidepressant, pulled in 17% of company revenues last year, and is slated to go generic next year.

In terms of Lilly's fate, Anderson noted the company has some breathing room. The analyst wrote that the company's Phase III pipeline consists of drugs that could keep money flowing in at a comfortable rate, including the experimental psoriasis medication ixekizumab, novel basal insulin LY2065541 and a biosimilar for Lantus, LY2963016, among others. He described these treatments as having medium commercial potential but a high probability of technical success.
Share this article:
You must be a registered member of MMM to post a comment.

Email Newsletters

MM&M Future Leaders

Register now

Early bird $1,950 before 31 October 2014

*Group discounts available on request 


Patient access to pharmaceuticals is a tale of two worlds—affordability has improved for the majority, while the minority is hampered by cost, distribution and red tape. To provide marketers with a well-rounded perspective, MM&M presents this e-book chock full of key insights. Click here to access it.

More in Channel

Five things for pharma marketers to know: Monday, September 15

Five things for pharma marketers to know: ...

Pharma has sought 76 meetings with FDA over biosimilars; Gilead licenses Sovaldi to India generic drugmakers; Pfizer and Ranbaxy Lipitor lawsuit dismissed.

Liraglutide, aiming for new indication, gets new name

Liraglutide, aiming for new indication, gets new name

Why Novo Nordisk is choosing not to leverage Victoza's brand equity as it seeks a weight-loss indication for liraglutide.

Five things for pharma marketers to know: Friday, September 12

Five things for pharma marketers to know: Friday, ...

An FDA panel voted in favor of liraglutide for weight loss; Allergan investors backing an attempted takeover of the firm crossed a critical threshold; and 100 million health wearables are ...