3. Challenging times for Alzheimer's trials
Clinical trials for Alzheimer's drugs are having a hard time recruiting participants — yet another setback for a field of research that's already enormously difficult.
Where it stands: There are more than 200 trials in search of roughly 100,000 participants, Medscape reports, citing federal officials. The New York Times cites experts who put the shortfall closer to 25,000, but that's still a daunting gap to close.
- Researchers would need to start by contacting more than 37 million patients in the right age range to participate in a trial, the NYT reports.
- About 10% of those people would make it on to a clinical trial site for screening. Statistically, about 20% of those people would drop out, and then 80% of those who remain would fail the screening. That leaves 25,000 patients.
Recruitment is especially difficult for Alzheimer's trials because it can be hard to reach people who have the disease, especially in its early stages, and also because Alzheimer's is often misdiagnosed.
“The irony is that the science has never been more promising,” John Dwyer, president of the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation, told the Times. “How many promising drugs will be abandoned or their evaluation seriously delayed? Some good science is going to be left on cutting-room floor.”