Faced with a disappointing set of late-stage data, Eli Lilly has stopped work on the osteoporosis drug arzoxifene--a program that had been counted as one of its top three near-term drug prospects. After a five-year study dubbed Generations, Lilly researchers concluded that the drug did not prevent a variety of secondary conditions, including nonspinal fractures. The therapy also raised the risk of blood clots and hot flashes. The drug, however, did meet the main goal of significantly reducing the risk of vertebral fracture and invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
"While arzoxifene met its primary efficacy objectives in this study, we are disappointed that the Generations data did not convincingly demonstrate that arzoxifene would represent a meaningful advancement in the treatment of osteoporosis," said M. Johnston Erwin, global brand development leader for Lilly's musculoskeletal platform.
That's a sorely disappointing outcome for Lilly, which had looked to the osteoporosis treatment to make up a substantial portion of the billions of dollars in revenue it will lose soon to generic drug makers. Lilly had been planning to start marketing the therapy next year. Some analysts noted that osteoporosis is a particularly difficult field for developers to work in.