Biogen Inc (NASDAQ: BIIB) stock plunged over 29.23% on March 21st, 2019 and continued its bearish momentum on March 22nd, 2019 (As of 11:00 am GMT-4; Source: Google finance) after the company said it would discontinue its Phase 3 trials of aducanumab, an investigational drug designed to slow cognitive decline in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease. Biogen and drug development partner Eisai Co. Ltd said the decision was based on the results of an interim analysis conducted by an independent monitoring committee. The analysis concluded the trials were unlikely to slow cognitive and functional impairment in patients on aducanumab compared with those on a placebo. Aducanumab is now added to long list of other Alzheimer’s drug failures. There have not been any new approved treatments in more than 15 years; the last was approved in 2003. And despite a great need and demand for Alzheimer’s therapies (5.8 million Americans live with the disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association), aducanumab’s failure will likely cause investors and competitors to shy away even more from the space. This disappointing news confirms the complexity of treating Alzheimer’s disease and the need to further advance knowledge in neuroscience.
Meanwhile, Biogen is still studying other, earlier-stage compounds, and is continuing to work with Eisai on two other drugs, said David Caouette. Eisai spokeswoman Libby Holman said the failure doesn’t affect plans for the other Alzheimer’s drugs, known as BAN2401 and elenbecestat. Late-stage studies will still proceed this year as planned
Without its potential blockbuster Alzheimer’s drug, Biogen now needs “a more aggressive business development approach to de-risk and diversify” its pipeline. Aducanumab’s promise prevented many investors from seeing the competitive risks to the company’s multiple sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy businesses.
Moreover, for drugmakers, expensive, ambitious attempts to find an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s have failed again and again. Drugs that looked promising in early tests have come up short when tried in larger groups, frustrating pharmaceutical executives, doctors and patients. Last year, Pfizer Inc. stopped trying entirely to find Alzheimer’s therapies, shutting down its research on both it and Parkinson’s disease and cutting about 300 jobs. Roche mostly abandoned a second beta amyloid compound this year, halting two large studies after concluding they would fail. Over the past three years, Biogen has spent $743 million on the research and development of aducanumab, and an additional $93 million on sales and marketing of the drug, with contributions of $30.2 million and $23.3 million from Eisai, respectively