Speed Reads

A Disappointing Result

Experimental drug fails to show slowing of dementia in blow to Alzheimer's research

An Alzheimer's drug developed by Swiss company Roche could not be proven in clinical trials to slow the progression of dementia, the pharmaceutical giant said Monday. 

In a statement, Roche said the drug, gantenerumab, "did not meet their primary endpoint of slowing clinical decline" in a pair of studies conducted by the company. The identical studies, which were conducted with patients over the course of two years, were held in an effort to prove that gantenerumab could preserve certain functions in early Alzheimer's patients, including problem-solving skills, memory, and judgment. 

While the trials were successful in showing a slight rate of decline, neither of them were described by Roche as being "statistically significant."

"So many of our families have been directly affected by Alzheimer's, so this news is very disappointing to deliver," said Levi Garraway, M.D., Ph.D., Roche's Chief Medical Officer and head of global product development. "We are profoundly grateful to the study participants, their care partners, and study sites for their contributions to this research." 

The faults of the studies now leave a trio of Roche's competitors, Biogen, Eisai, and Eli Lilly as the leaders in the medical community's effort to get an Alzheimer's treatment on the market. 

The results saw economic ramifications as well, and Reuters reported that financial services firm Credit Suisse called the studies an "unequivocal" failure. Shares of Roche fell to their lowest in seven weeks, Reuters noted, with shares of Biogen and Eli Lilly rising 3.8 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.