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Failure Of Lilly Drug Is Latest Alzheimer's Setback

An experimental drug that aimed to slow the development of plaques and help clear them from the brains of Alzheimer's patients failed in two late-stage studies conducted by Eli Lilly & Co., the company said today.

It's another setback in a field marked by failure. Earlier this month, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson said they were dropping development of a similar experimental drug after big clinical studies showed it wasn't working. And two years ago, Lilly announced another Alzheimer's drug flunked late-stage clinical tests.

The latest disappointment involved Lilly's solanezumab, a drug given by IV every four weeks. The studies, involving more than 2,000 patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease, lasted a year and a half.

Patients who got the drug instead of a placebo were no better off on tests of memory and thinking. The same was true about tests on tasks of daily life.

After combining the results from both trials, Lilly said it found some reason to think there might be an effect from treatment for some patients.

"We recognize that the solanezumab studies did not meet their primary endpoints, but we are encouraged by the pooled data that appear to show a slowing of cognitive decline," said a statement from John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D., Lilly's chairman and CEO.

While acknowledging the disappointing outcome, the Alzheimer's Association said in a statement that the pooled data contained "new and encouraging information."

But the pooling of data by Lilly also drew skeptical responses. Sally Church, a drug industry consultant, tweeted that it's "truly despair" when drugmakers "raise unnecessary hope/hype for [patients] when they have a clearly failed trial."

Pieter Droppert, a colleague of Church's, rounded up some of the on-the-fly analysis, including comments from John LaMattina, formerly head of research at Pfizer, and Derek Lowe, a drug industry and science blogger. The upshot was negative.

Lilly plans to talk with regulators about what to do next. More details on the results, which were sparse today, will be presented at medical meetings in October.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Verdine White On 45 Years With Earth, Wind & Fire

Forty-five years ago, the band “Earth, Wind and Fire” introduced audiences to a new kind of funk--one that fused soul, jazz, Latin and pop. Bassist Verdine White talks to guest host Derek McGinty about breaking racial boundaries in music and how the band is still evolving.

NPR

The Case Against The Shirley Temple (The Drink)

Author and cocktail enthusiast Wayne Curtis wrote an article called "Shirley Temples Are Destroying America's Youth." He talks about why he hates Shirley Temples — the drink, not the person.
WAMU 88.5

What's Ahead At The Democratic National Convention

The Democratic National Convention gets underway in Philadelphia, where Hillary Clinton will accept the presidential nomination.

NPR

Experimental Plane Sets Off On Final Leg Of Its Round-The-World Journey

It's the first time for a solar-powered plane to circumnavigate the globe. Now it's en route to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates — and you can watch the journey in a live video from the cockpit.

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