Alzheimer's keeps frustrating big pharma

A string of serious setbacks for possible treatments may be eroding researchers' -- and investors' -- confidence.

By Bruce Kennedy May 10, 2013 8:07AM

Senior man in wheelchair looking out window (© Tetra Images/Getty Images)When some of the world's leading researchers on Alzheimer's meet in Boston in July to discuss therapies and treatments for the so-far incurable neurological disease, will they have any breakthroughs to mention?


Chances are, probably not. Years of research and tests by the pharmaceutical industry, which looks to benefit from patents for an effective Alzheimer's treatment, have so far yielded little to no positive results. And that's leading to questions about whether big pharma might still consider Alzheimer's research cost-effective.


According to the Alzheimer's Association's 2013 Facts and Figures report, one out of every three seniors in the U.S. dies with Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia. The disease, which affects tens of millions of Americans, is also the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. So far, it's the only cause of death that science has been unable to prevent, cure or at least show progress in slowing.


Along with the emotional toll on Alzheimer's patients and their families is an enormous financial cost. The number of people with the disease is expected to triple in the next several decades, with estimates that overall costs for Alzheimer's treatment and care could reach $1 trillion annually by 2050.


In 2012, more than 150 companies, including some pharmaceutical giants, were working on Alzheimer's drugs -- hoping to cash in on what the Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News website estimates is an $8 billion global market for a successful Alzheimer's treatment. But some highly anticipated drugs have since fizzled out in the testing stage.


In January of last year, Medivation (MDVN) announced that its Dimebon drug, backed by Pfizer (PFE), didn't produce any significant results for Alzheimer's patients, leaving Pfizer with about $725 million in lost investment. 


Later in 2012, the Irish company Elan (ELN), working with with Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), halted research and development of bapineuzumab after disappointing results.


That was followed by a report from Eli Lilly (LLY) that its second attempt in two years at an Alzheimer's drug, while showing some hints of progress, didn't to live up to expectations.


And just this week, Baxter International (BAX) reported the blood product it thought might help slow mental decline and preserve physical function in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's failed to show the hoped-for results.


All these setbacks, according to The Independent, are affecting the confidence of neuroscience researchers and causing pharmaceutical companies to reconsider their efforts to add Alzheimer's treatments to the medical pipeline.


"My sense is not that companies want to move away (from Alzheimer's research) but that their shareholders are getting restive," Eric Karran, the director of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, told the newspaper in September. "That's capitalism. There is nothing we can do about that. But there is a huge public need."


More on moneyNOW

18Comments
May 10, 2013 11:27AM
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I'm not a scientist or a Doctor but........... My theory is if you cure diabetes and other metabolic disorders, The occurrence of dementia and Alzheimer's will fall in proportion.

Diet and exercise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 12, 2013 12:00PM
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My feeling is that this has been with us forever, we just live much longer today; Look at timelines over the last 4-5 Generations..

Now that they have stuck fancier names on the disease, it has became a disease....imo.

In the past we were senile, crackers, goofy,forgetful or just plain crazy; When losing our faculties.

Nature's way of letting us slip back to infancy and dying without knowing it's coming..The Secret.

 

I also believe, that there are external causes, such as diet, chemicals in foods and waters, along with pollution; The air we breath in larger Metro areas, that may be a catalyst for the earlier onsets..

And the lack of interest and mobility that effects many seniors...But not all of us give up easily.

There may be and are genetic connections, that seem to be apparent; ??

Does it skip a generation or is it a constant? My sisters and I hope so, because we think about it most days...And I don't want to burden my wife with it, nor my children..

 

We have seen some families that are inflicted more then others, and it begs the questions.

I think pre-med treatment is much more effective then after the fact..?

We also believe in constantly excercising the brain with activity, is the best way to slow the process along with a balanced diet and other physical activities or excercise...

Some of the other suggestions here(within comments) may help..Don't know for sure..?

Such things as TV, Radio, Music, Reading, Computers, Puzzles, Games and outside activities do help? Once you stop it seems to get worst.

Afterall it is a problem in the Brain...Not your legs,arms and fingers, like Arthiritis.

After losing our Mom over 16 years ago, we have learned much and have witnessed the on-going degeneration of many others...Until their deaths.

 

So if your Mom is still alive, give her a kiss for me; Wish her Happy Mother's Day and be very glad that she is still around; And she knows who you are?, one of her Children.

Happy Mother's Day to all Moms.

May 10, 2013 5:58PM
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Its really going to make "big pharma" and "big government" look stupid when they discover that regular cannabis use prevents it.
May 10, 2013 1:03PM
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I think if they would just put more effort into testing for vitamin deficiency it would help out a lot of the medical issues instead of helping the pharmaceutical  companies make their millions.  So much greed and so little common sense.
May 10, 2013 11:48AM
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Isn't there some evidence that popcorn oil ((coconut oil) retards Alzheimer's ? The dose about a table spoon must be given daily or more often though. Is what I heard incorrect?
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the Endocannabinol system regulates several key fatty acids in human brain and few other critters also cell development and regulation and oxygenation and  that when maintained with an artificial source like what can be obtained from Hemp/marijuana/weed/bud
CBD and THCV  cannabinoid receptors in Human brain will continue strong until death Hence no more memory loss and confusion go figure it may also destroy several cancers that are prevalent in the elderly and again extending life and Quality of life so go smoke a bowl and relax your in good hands with the big pharma companies as they will-not develop them why GREED they cannot place a patent on gods creation and they have been miss leading the Entire globe for 80 plus years to make maximum profit from all the synthetics that replace the anti cancer effect they had no clue that hemp could keep them from loosing their minds later in life another no brain er----- time for a  change LEGALIZE MEDICAL MARIJUANA NOW across the entire country 
May 10, 2013 4:49PM
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Folding@Home.  The more people the better to help the cause.  
May 10, 2013 11:16AM
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Look into virgin coconut oil to see what it has done for several brain type degenerative conditions.
May 10, 2013 3:22PM
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Base on my knowledge, the main factor for Alzheimer's disease cause by BLOOD CONTAMINATION, if the LUNG and LIVER function must be PERFECT will cure Alzheimer's DISEASE.
May 10, 2013 11:16AM
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Alzheimer, what a great way to die.  With Alzheimer you have no idea where your are or how to care for yourself any longer.  If you had Alzheimer's just 50 years ago you would have died much sooner with out putting a major financial burden on the immediate family or society as a whole. 

 

Just think with Alzheimer's .....you don't even know your dyeing.   You just sort of drift off into "lolla land" and never come back....and if you would have taken that walk into the woods you would have died a natural death.  But today, society will not let that happen.  Their is just to much money to be made in health care to ever let that happen .....and......money today rules the force of nature.

 

 

 

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