By Peter Loftus
Eisai Co. and Biogen Inc. revealed new data showing their closely watched experimental drug slowed the worsening of Alzheimer’s disease, but some experts who saw the latest results said more testing is needed to validate whether the drug is truly providing a benefit.
Eisai /zigman2/quotes/202565502/delayed ESALY +0.71% and Biogen /zigman2/quotes/201531540/composite BIIB -0.32% said in early July that the drug, known as BAN2401, showed positive results in the mid-stage study but offered few details at the time. The news sent shares of both companies soaring on hopes that the industry may finally have found a drug that slows the underlying course of the memory-eroding disease, rather than temporarily improve symptoms as some current treatments do.
On Wednesday Eisai, which has led development of the drug, presented final results, saying early Alzheimer’s patients receiving the highest dose had 30% less decline than those taking a placebo 18 months after the start of treatment. The results, presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago, are based on an efficacy measure that Eisai developed, testing patients’ memory and ability to care for themselves.
Lynn Kramer, chief medical officer of Eisai’s neurology business group, called the results “fairly conclusive” and said the company has begun setting up meetings with drug regulators to discuss next steps, in hopes of receiving marketing approval.
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