Jun 7, 2019

How the Pfizer-Alzheimer's story may have been overblown

In this image, a man and a woman walk past a large metal logo for Pfizer

The Pfizer logo. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Washington Post's story this week on how Pfizer opted out of pursuing a link between one of its blockbuster drugs and Alzheimer's prevention may have been overblown, Derek Lowe writes in Science Translational Medicine's blog.

The state of play: Undertaking an Alzheimer's trial is a huge endeavor, Lowe argues, and is both risky and expensive. "The clinical success rate for Alzheimer's trials is arguably zero per cent," he writes.

  • Thus, the data from Pfizer's insurance claims aren't enough to launch an ambitious clinical trial.
  • It's also illogical to think that a drug company would have sat on a potential Alzheimer's prevention — which would be worth a fortune.
  • The link between anti-inflammatory drugs and Alzheimer's has been explored before, meaning that it's not like Pfizer kept completely ground-breaking information secret.

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