Lilly Alzheimer drug fails to hit trial goals

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Eli Lilly announced Friday that the Phase III trial for its its experimental Alzheimer's drug Solanezumab was a bust—tests showed that the drug failed to meet either of the Phase III targets among patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.

But Lilly added in a statement that Solanezumab is not finished yet. The reason for holding on: even though the Expedition trials didn't come through on both cognitive and function targets, the company said that if it pools the data from both trials and measures the cognitive impact alone, the drug did slow decline among patients with mild symptoms.

Jefferies analyst Jeffrey Holford was not impressed. He noted in his Friday research note that the cognitive impact was largely limited to the mild-Alzheimer's set, as opposed to significantly helping both mild and moderately affected patients. Holford also took issue with pooling the data for a good result. “With even mild patients not showing a significant benefit on cognition in Expediton 2 as a standalone study," he noted, "the magnitude and reliability of the benefit must be questioned at this point.”

Lilly said in a statement it will determine the next steps for the drug after meeting with regulators.

This was yet another blow to the Lilly pipeline. The company announced it July that its investigational schizophrenia drug mGLu2/3 also failed to hit its marks in clinical trials.

Analysts have viewed the Alzheimer's category with a high degree of skepticism, noting last month that even drugmakers set low expectations for their drugs.
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