Potential treatment for Alzheimer’s fails test

A Russian hay fever pill had become one of the world’s best hopes for treating Alzheimer’s disease, but those were dashed on Wednesday when the drug failed in its first late-stage clinical trial, according to a story in the New York Times.

A San Francisco start-up company called Medivation and the drug giant Pfizer were developing the treatment.

The companies said in a statement that the drug, called Dimebon, had shown virtually no effect in treating the cognitive decline or behavioral problems associated with Alzheimer’s when compared with a placebo.

The result was somewhat surprising because in a smaller previous trial, Dimebon had shown more effectiveness than any of the drugs already approved for Alzheimer’s disease.

As recently as last week, an Alzheimer’s researcher had said of Dimebon, “The clinical data is by far and a way superior to anything that’s ever been shown before.”

That researcher, Mark A. Smith, of Case Western Reserve University, has been trying to help Medivation figure out how the drug works.

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