INDIANAPOLIS — Eli Lilly's experimental Alzheimer's drug has flashed potential to help with mild cases of the disease, but patients and doctors will have to wait a few more years to learn whether regulators will allow the drugmaker to sell it.
Lilly said Wednesday that it will launch another late-stage study of the drug, solanezumab, no later than next year's third quarter.
The Indianapolis drugmaker said in August that the intravenous treatment failed to slow memory decline in two late-stage studies of about 1,000 patients each. But scientists saw a statistically significant slowing when they combined trial data. Pooled results found 34 percent less mental decline in mild Alzheimer's patients compared with those on a fake treatment for 18 months.
Researchers also saw a statistically significant result when they examined a subgroup of patients with mild cases of Alzheimer's disease.
Drugmakers have tried and failed for years to develop successful treatments for Alzheimer's, and patients and doctors are anxious for something that can slow its progression.
Solanezumab was one of three potential Alzheimer's drugs in late-stage testing. Bapineuzumab, being developed by Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy unit, gave disappointing results in two studies last summer.
A pivotal study of the third — Gammagard, by Baxter International Inc. — will wrap up at the end of this year. Results are expected in the first or second quarter next year.