Patient deaths, illnesses cloud clinical trials

Eleven patients have died while taking Eisai’s Aricept during a clinical trial, the Japanese drug maker said. The deaths were among 648 patients who took Aricept once daily for 24 weeks compared with no deaths in the 326 patients receiving placebos, according to published reports. Eisai markets Aricept with Pfizer. The drug is approved in most markets to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease but was being tested in patients with vascular dementia, the second-most-common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s. News of the Aricept-related deaths came just one day after reports surfaced that six people in the UK became severely ill during a trial of an experimental drug for cancer and other inflammatory diseases. That drug, TGN1412, is made by the German firm TeGenero AG.