Lilly Shelves Potential Alzheimer's Treatment

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(Video screen capture image courtesy of Eli Lilly) (Video screen capture image courtesy of Eli Lilly)

Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) says it is dropping further pursuit of a once-promising potential treatment for the effects of Alzheimer's disease. Chief Executive Officer John Lechleiter says the company is disappointed by late-stage clinical trial results, which suggest solanezumab did not achieve "a significant slowing in cognitive decline" for patients, compared to those using placebo.

Lilly will no longer seek regulatory approval for its use. Though some secondary goals were met throughout the process, Lilly says overall, "the magnitudes of treatment differences were small," adding "there were no new safety signals identified in the study."

In a statement, Lechleiter said "the results of the solanezumab EXPEDITION3 trial were not what we had hoped for and we are disappointed for the millions of people waiting for a potential disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer's disease. We will evaluate the impact of these results on the development plans for solanezumab and our other Alzheimer's pipeline assets."

During an interview Wednesday morning on CNBC, Lechleiter said despite an emotional reaction that could come from the setback, "the underpinnings of our business are very strong," citing the launch of seven new drugs since 2014 and a potential for up to 20 more in the coming years. He says "there's more to Lilly" than this potential treatment or battling one particular disease.

The pharmaceutical maker says the next steps for what had been a potential way to treat Alzheimer's-related dementia have not yet been determined.

Lilly executives vow to continue the search for a weapon in the fight against the disease. "Lilly has strong growth prospects without solanezumab," says Lilly Bio-Medicines President and incoming CEO David Ricks. "Driven by new product launches, we continue to expect to grow average annual revenue by at least 5 percent between 2015 and 2020. Over that time frame, we also expect to increase our margins and provide annual dividend increases to our shareholders."

Ricks added in a national television interview along with Lechleiter that Lilly is "committed as ever" to Alzheimer's care, pointing to what he said is a deep and broad pipeline to tackle "one of the most significant, if not, the most-significant problem in health care."

You can connect to more about Lilly's decision by clicking here.

In a special message thanking participants in the trial process and their families, Lechleiter said he is convinced a cure for Alzheimer's will be found:

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