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World’s leading drug giants giving up search for Alzheimer’s disease cure

London, Sep 19 (ANI): The world’s leading pharmaceutical companies are abandoning the search for new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease after a series of failed high-profile drugs trials.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers worldwide are under huge pressure as the neuroscience unit has been disproportionately hit, with AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Merck, Sanofi, Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline all downsizing their European departments.

“Neuroscience is a very challenging area. All companies are shedding jobs but neuroscience has had the highest attrition rate,” The Independent quoted Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, as saying.

“It always got to be a risk. My sense is not that companies want to move away [from Alzheimer’s research] but that their shareholders are getting restive. That’s capitalism – there is nothing we can do about that. But there is a huge public need,” he added when asked if the pipeline of new Alzheimer’s drugs could run dry.

This year, a trial of Dimebon backed by US pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, in January, failed to show any benefit, and instead cost the company 750 million dollars in lost investment, while in July, ‘bapineuzumab’, developed by Irish drug-maker Elan in association with Pfizer and the US multinational Johnson and Johnson, also failed to show an impact on the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, the paper said.

Another US group, Eli Lilly, reported the failure of solanezumab in August, which was its second Alzheimer’s drug to disappoint in two years. In 2010, a trial of semagacestat not only failed to slow the disease but worsened symptoms, it added.

The latest trials are thought to have failed because the drugs were either given too late to patients in the disease process to have any effect, or were unable to pick up subtle changes in cognition over a relatively short period, the paper said. (ANI)