Viewpoint: Drug developers are abandoning current Alzheimer’s patients. Why is no one complaining?

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Image credit: Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation

Although the latest analysis of experimental Alzheimer’s drugs finds that literally zero are being tested in late-stage clinical trials to treat moderate to severe Alzheimer’s, no patient advocacy groups uttered a peep in protest.

For more than 20 years drug makers and academic scientists pursued treatments to slow or reverse dementia by targeting amyloid plaques in the brain. Every last one failed. Now companies and investors are instead focused on trying to prevent Alzheimer’s in younger people — potentially a huge, and hugely lucrative, market — or trying to ameliorate agitation and other behavioral symptoms of the disease. Meanwhile, alternative strategies for treating the disease have been largely ignored and underfunded, with little outcry.

“These are the very patients we have to help,” said Dr. Daniel Alkon, president and chief science officer of Neurotrope, which is running a Phase 2 clinical trial of a compound called bryostatin in patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s. That makes it literally the only Phase 2 or Phase 3 study of whether a drug can alter the course of disease in patients with severe dementia. “I absolutely do not think it’s hopeless.”

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Neurotrope is a complete outlier, however, and even Alkon can understand both the scientific and business case for drug developers’ decision to target mild Alzheimer’s, or even pre-symptomatic but at-risk (i.e. healthy) people.

Read full, original post: As Alzheimer’s drug developers give up on today’s patients, where is the outrage?

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