Alzheimer's Drug No Better Than Sugar Pill

By Scott McGrew
|  Wednesday, Mar 3, 2010  |  Updated 12:06 PM PDT
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Alzheimer's Drug No Better Than Sugar Pill

Doctors, investors and nearly 600 families involved in a promising test for a new Alzheimer's drug were crushed to learn the pill shows no more promise than a placebo. 

In the third phase of trial experiements, Medivation's Dimebon did not appear to help patients function better or have better cognitive abilities.

"The results from the... study are unexpected, and we are disappointed for the Alzheimer's community," Dr. David Hung, president and chief executive officer of Medivation, said in a news release.  "We are working with our colleagues at Pfizer to better understand the CONNECTION data and we plan to present these data at an upcoming medical meeting."

The company says the tests involved 598 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease at 63 sites in North America, Europe and South America.  Most patients were in their 70s.  Patients taking placebos -- sugar pills -- actually saw more improvement over those taking the actual drug.

The bad tests results were unexpected.  Two of the previous tests had shown the drug to be effective.

"This is a running battle in our war against Alzheimer's disease, and we intend to continue that battle," Hung said.

On Tuesday, before the release of the study, the company's stock price hit $40.25, a new high. After the study was release, that price tumbled below $14 Wednesday.

Alzheimers is a mysterious and debilitating disease which effects the brain and personality, which made today's failure particularly disappointing.  Russian scientists had noticed that patients taking certain antihistimines for allegeries were showing improvement in their Alzheimer's.  Dimebon was launched following that discovery.

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