Flurizan flunks its Phase III Alzheimer’s test

A closely watched Alzheimer's drug being developed by H. Lundbeck and its U.S. partner Myriad Genetics failed a crucial late-stage study, sending shares of Lundbeck down to a four-year low and triggering a decision to axe the development program. Researchers say that Flurizan failed to either improve the cognition of Alzheimer's patients or their ability to perform daily activities. Lundbeck says it is analyzing the full set of data, but Myriad Genetics--which licensed the therapy to Lundbeck in May--says it won't pursue any new research on the drug.

"We are disappointed that Flurizan failed to achieve significance in this study, and we will now discontinue development of this compound," said Peter Meldrum, the CEO of Myriad Genetics. "The discontinuation of Flurizan will reduce our pharmaceutical development spend substantially and should enable Myriad to achieve profitability next year, ending June 30, 2009." Meldrum told PharmaTimes that the company plans to spend $8 million shutting the program down, bringing its total investment in the failed therapy to $68 million.

That was a particularly bitter pill for Lundbeck to swallow. The Copenhagen-based developer is scrambling to develop new products to replace the antidepressant Lexapro, which loses patent protection in 2012. The company's strategy is to buy one or two products that are either on the market or close to approval. Its shares dropped 14 percent on the trial data.

- here's Myriad's release
- check out the CNN report