Alzheimer's disease

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.

Pfizer's anti-inflammatory drug appeared to reduce Alzheimer's risk

Enbrel, Pfizer's blockbuster anti-inflammatory drug, appeared to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, but the company didn't investigate further or make the connection public, WashPost reports.

Details: The pattern was found through analyzing insurance claims. Company researchers urged a clinical trial, which they estimated would have cost $80 million, to see if the link was real.