Nav: Home

Disappointing Merck drug news underscores critical next steps in Alzheimer's fight

February 17, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 17, 2017 -- The recent announcement that Merck is halting a Phase II/III study for a promising Alzheimer's treatment (verubecestat) was another setback in the continued and intensive effort to deliver an innovative therapy by 2020. UsAgainstAlzheimer's, which works collaboratively with industry partners to see near- and long-term progress against this destructive disease, applauds the vast investment of Merck, the diligence of the many principal investigators involved in the study and the courage of the clinical trial participants, as well as their caregivers, for their deep commitment to the fight.

"The spirited work of Merck and other drug companies that are concentrating vast resources into a cure for Alzheimer's is not underappreciated. Each outcome, while assuredly disheartening, builds our knowledge and leads us closer to a solution for the millions of people with Alzheimer's or related dementias," said UsAgainstAlzheimer's Co-Founder and Chairman George Vradenburg. "Just as we have before, we will keep working incessantly, passionately and strategically so that the next round in this fight goes to us."

Similar to Eli Lilly's recent negative Phase III trial of the once-promising therapy solanezumab, verubecestat was assessed by an oversight committee as having "virtually no chance of finding a positive clinical effect" on people with mild to moderate symptoms. Verubecestat, like other drugs in the pipeline, targets the beta amyloid protein that forms most of the plaque that builds up in the brains of Alzheimer's patient.

"The drug will continue to be studied on people with a very early form of Alzheimer's disease where we are hopeful for a better outcome," Vradenburg said.

Following the solanezumab news, Vradenburg issued a letter, acknowledging lessons learned in the aftermath of negative trials and providing a blueprint for moving forward on the path to a cure. His guidance, directed at policymakers, advocates and researchers, rings true following the verubecestat news. It includes these pivotal next steps:
  • Obtaining a minimum of $2 billion in annual U.S. federal funding for Alzheimer's research, with an insistence that, in the near future, every government in the world provide funding equivalent to one percent of their Alzheimer's care costs (which, in the United States would equal $2.3 billion, according to 2016 figures).

  • Calling upon President Trump to exercise global leadership in this effort.

  • Building a high-speed specialized Alzheimer's trial network to enable the more rapid and efficient testing of therapies.

  • Utilizing "big data" to enable doctors to detect Alzheimer's disease at the earliest possible moment when prevention therapies now in testing could have their greatest effect.

  • Achieving greater racial, income and educational diversity among clinical trial participants, realizing that, by 2030, a majority of Americans with Alzheimer's are expected to be members of what are today called "minority" populations.

Despite the recent news, there is hope, as there are more promising innovations on the horizon. An analysis of the Phase III Alzheimer's drug pipeline, conducted by ResearchersAgainstAlzheimer's (RA2), shows that there are now 21 Alzheimer's drugs in Phase III clinical trials, 19 of which may be on track to launch in the next five years. In addition, RA2 reports that 10 drugs are scheduled to have trial completion dates in 2017 and 2018.

"UsAgainstAlzheimer's was founded because we wanted to turn the pain we experienced with this disease to drive our shared purpose to boldly break down the barriers to a cure," Vradenburg said. "We are grateful to the researchers and clinical trial participants, as well as the enormous financial contributions of Merck and other industry leaders, who have a similar passion to eradicate this disease."
UsAgainstAlzheimer's is an innovative non-profit organization demanding - and delivering - a solution to Alzheimer's. Driven by the suffering of millions of families, UsAgainstAlzheimer's presses for greater urgency from government, industry and the scientific community in the quest for an Alzheimer's cure - accomplishing this through effective leadership, collaborative advocacy, and strategic investments.

Founded in 2010, UsAgainstAlzheimer's has worked across sectors to: (1) secure the national goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer's by 2025 and help secure nearly $500 million in additional public funding for Alzheimer's research over the past few years; (2) drive global efforts that resulted in the leaders of the world's most powerful nations, the G7 group, to embrace a similar 2025 goal and to call for greater levels of research investment and collaboration; and (3) forge industry commitments to improve efficiencies for an expedited drug discovery and approval process.


Related Drugs Articles:

Wallflowers could lead to new drugs
Plant-derived chemicals called cardenolides - like digitoxin - have long been used to treat heart disease, and have shown potential as cancer therapies.
Bristol pioneers use of VR for designing new drugs
Researchers at the University of Bristol are pioneering the use of virtual reality (VR) as a tool to design the next generation of drug treatments.
Towards better anti-cancer drugs
The Bayreuth biochemist Dr. Claus-D. Kuhn and his research team have deciphered how the important human oncogene CDK8 is activated in cells of healthy individuals.
Separating drugs with MagLev
The composition of suspicious powders that may contain illicit drugs can be analyzed using a quick and simple method called magneto-Archimedes levitation (MagLev), according to a new study published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
People are more likely to try drugs for the first time during the summer
American teenagers and adults are more likely to try illegal or recreational drugs for the first time in the summer, a new study shows.
Drugs used to enhance sexual experiences, especially in UK
Combining drugs with sex is common regardless of gender or sexual orientation, reveals new research by UCL and the Global Drug Survey into global trends of substance-linked sex.
Promising new drugs for old pathogen Mtb
UConn researchers are targeting a metabolic pathway, the dihydrofolate reductase pathway, crucial for amino acid synthesis to treat TB infections.
Can psychedelic drugs heal?
Many people think of psychedelics as relics from the hippie generation or something taken by ravers and music festival-goers, but they may one day be used to treat disorders ranging from social anxiety to depression, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.
New uses for existing antiviral drugs
Broad-spectrum antiviral drugs work against a range of viral diseases, but developing them can be costly and time consuming.
New TB drugs possible with understanding of old antibiotic
Tuberculosis, and other life-threatening microbial diseases, could be more effectively tackled with future drugs, thanks to new research into an old antibiotic by the University of Warwick and the Francis Crick Institute.
More Drugs News and Drugs Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at