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High hopes for new Alzheimer’s drug

Janet Babin Jun 17, 2008
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High hopes for new Alzheimer’s drug

Janet Babin Jun 17, 2008
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TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Drugmakers are constantly on the lookout for their next blockbuster opportunity and two firms on the cutting edge of Alzheimer’s research are getting close.

Janet Babin has more from the Marketplace Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio.


Janet Babin: Elan and Wyeth’s new Alzheimer’s drug has a tongue twister of a name — it’s called bapineuzumab. It works by attacking the plaque deposits in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s. It shows the most promise for people without an inherited Alzheimer’s marker — that’s about 60 percent of us.

If the final trial goes well, analyst Eric Snyder with Mehta Partners says bapineuzumab could become the biggest selling drug of all time.

Eric Snyder: Clearly it’s a $1 billion product or more. People are saying it could be $5 billion, it could be $13 billion.

But Snyder’s still cautious about bapineuzumab’s market potential. A previous trial with a drug that used a similar approach had to be stopped. Some patients came down with abnormal swelling of the brain.

Snyder: Even though the drug seems very promising, I personally am concerned about the safety risks.

And then there’s the competition. Myriad Genetics also has a breakthrough Alzheimer’s drug on the way. More data about both drugs will be released at an Alzheimer’s conference next month.

I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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