A troubled timeline of Alzheimer’s trials

By Ben Hargreaves

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Dragana991)
(Image: Getty/Dragana991)

Related tags Biogen Eisai A great way to care Pfizer Eli lilly Roche

After Biogen’s setback in the space, the number of treatments that have not succeeded in making an impact on Alzheimer’s disease continues to grow.

The failure of Biogen and Eisai’s Alzheimer’s drug candidate in Phase III trials sent both company’s share prices plummeting​, but given the troubled history of successfully bringing through a treatment, the latest setback is a disappointment but not unexpected.

Between 2002 and 2012, a study recorded a 99.6% failure rate​ for clinical trials looking into bringing a treatment through to patients.

Why do companies, such as Biogen and Eisai, still spend billions of dollars​ attempting to bring through treatments when the success rate is so low?

With a potential patient population globally of over 50 million people and this estimated to increase to 152 million by 2050​, any successful treatment would be a guaranteed blockbuster.

However, the complexity of the disease has thwarted a number of treatments and only seen limited success in bringing through new symptom-improving but disease-altering drug approvals, as can be seen in PhRMA’s analysis below.


In addition to the number of failures, some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the industry have poured billions into potential treatments that ran aground in late-stage trials.

Below is a timeline of some of the key projects that demonstrate the size of the companies involved in research and the scale of the difficulty in finding a disease-modifying Alzheimer’s treatment:

Related topics Bio Developments Pipelines

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