Although Eli Lilly & Co.’s experimental Alzheimer’s treatment failed to meet the primary goals of two large studies, the drug still showed some encouraging data, sending shares up 5.80% at the opening bell. The buying frenzy quickly calmed down, but the stock was still up by 3.30% before 10 a.m.
In late-stage clinical trials in patients with mild-to-moderate levels of Alzheimer’s disease, Lilly’s solanezumab showed promise in slowing mental loss. According to Bloomberg, the positive news was a surprise since analysts thought there was less than 20% chance the drug would show any benefits.
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"We recognize that the solanezumab studies did not meet their primary endpoints, but we are encouraged by the pooled data that appear to show a slowing of cognitive decline," John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D., chairman, president and chief executive officer of Lilly, said in a statement.
Lilly would benefit greatly from a successful drug to treat patients suffering from Alzheimer’s. Not only are there currently no drugs on the market to slow the progression of the disease, but Lilly lost the patent on its top seller, Zyprexa, earlier this year. Next year, Lilly’s second-best seller, Cymbalta, also goes generic.
Just a month ago, a similar Alzheimer’s drug from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Elan Corp. failed in the first of four big studies, slaughtering Elan’s stock. Bapineuzumab failed to improve symptoms of dementia in patients with a gene that made them high-risk for getting Alzheimer’s.