The Substantial Costs Affiliated With Alzheimer Drug Development: Jeffrey Cummings, MD, ScD


The director of the Chambers-Grundy Center for Transformative Neuroscience at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas discussed new data that highlights wasted expenditures from Alzheimer trials and the importance of understanding their impacts. [WATCH TIME: 3 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 3 minutes

"They’re [enrolled patients] the people we’re trying to help, but they’re also our allies in terms of drug development. That number—the size of it—was breathtaking to me.”

With the exemption of the recent accelerated approval of aducanumab (Aduhelm; Biogen), there have been only 5 novel drugs since 1995 treat patients with Alzheimer disease (AD) that have reached FDA approval. To better understand the costs of AD drug development in the private sector, lead author Jeffrey Cummings, MD, ScD, and colleagues collected data on 1099 nonanimal AD clinical trials from the last quarter century.

At the end of the analysis, cumulative expenditures on the research and development stage were estimated at $42.5 billion, with the greatest costs ($24,064 million; 57%) incurred during phase 3. Moreover, the study mainly highlighted the large number of failures within the space, including most notably in the later stages. Of the 235 agents analyzed, 112 remain in active clinical development, 6 have reached commercialization, and 117 have had negative outcomes in various stages of clinical development—equating to a 95% failure rate.

Cummings, MD, ScD, professor of brain science, and director, Chambers-Grundy Center for Transformative Neuroscience, University of Nevada–Las Vegas, sat down with NeurologyLive®to discuss the reasoning behind his analysis and the most notable takeaways from the data. He also briefly mentioned the staggering number of patients that have been in these trials and the role they play in drug development.

Cummings JL, Goldman DP, Simmons-Stern NR, Ponton E. The costs of developing treatments for Alzheimer disease: a retrospective exploration. Alzheimer Dement. Published online September 28, 2021. doi:10.1002/alz.12450
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