A large trial of a drug to treat dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease has ended in failure after people receiving the treatment showed no significant improvements to those taking a placebo. The failure of the much anticipated drug, which showed promise in earlier results, is being seen as a disappointing setback, but not the end of hopes to fight the disease. On Wednesday, US drugmaker Eli Lilly announced that the Phase 3 clinical trial of its drug solanezumab did not progress as planned. “Patients treated with solanezumab did not experience a statistically significant slowing in cognitive decline compared to patients treated with placebo,” the company said in a statement. Almost 47 million people live with dementia worldwide and that number is expected to double every 20 years to reach 131 million people in 2050, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. Dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to account for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. More than 2,100 patients diagnosed with mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s participated in the multi-national trial, called EXPEDITION3,
which began in 2013. In a statement, Lilly’s chairman, president and CEO John C. Lechleiter said the company was “disappointed for the millions of people waiting for a potential disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.” He added that the results would be evaluated to determine the impact on its other potential Alzheimer’s drugs in the pipeline. The company’s share price dropped more than 10% on the New York Stock Exchange after the announcement. More details are expected to be announced on Thursday.