The Indianapolis Star - June 16, 2006
INDIANAPOLIS--Eli Lilly’s popular osteoporosis drug Evista will be tested to see if it slows the progress of Alzheimer’s dementia in women.
If successful, the drug could fill a huge need. Currently, no approved drugs are on the market to reverse the ravages of Alzheimer’s or stop it from progressing, although four drugs are approved to treat the disease’s symptoms.
Lilly and several other drug makers are testing numerous compounds to try to find ways to fight the disease.
There are intriguing reasons to believe Evista, which was Lilly’s fourth-best-selling drug last year, might work against Alzheimer’s, a progressive disease that gradually robs patients of their memories and thinking abilities.
In 2001, researchers at Lilly and the University of California released results of a review of 7,705 women over 70 that showed those who had taken Evista did better on tests of memory and attention than those who took a placebo.
The new one-year trial will enroll 72 women who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis and at Stanford University in California.
It’s the first Alzheimer’s efficacy study with the Lilly drug in a tightly controlled clinical trial with patients, said Dr. Martin R. Farlow, a neurology professor at the IU School of Medicine.
"There is a pretty good prospect the drug really does work" against Alzheimer’s, Farlow said. "It would be a nice thing to prove."
The new study is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Lilly will supply the Evista pills, but otherwise is not part of the trial, Farlow said.
Lilly also is seeking Food and Drug Administration approval to market Evista to prevent breast cancer. Lilly would need more than one study to win FDA approval to sell the drug for Alzheimer’s, Farlow said.
Evista has been on the market since 1998.