Shares of Eli Lilly (LLY) hit a four-year high Monday afternoon after the big pharma presented detailed data showing its Alzheimer's drug candidate slowed memory loss.
The news followed up on a somewhat confusing announcement in late August saying solanezumab had failed to meet the primary endpoint in two clinical trials but that there was still enough good news on cognitive decline to warrant pressing ahead. At the annual meeting of the American Neurological Association Monday, researchers said one trial had shown a 42% reduction in cognitive decline while the other showed 20%. The latter was not statistically significant, but putting all the mild Alzheimer's patients together showed a significant 34% reduction as well as a 17% reduction in functional decline.
Lilly's press release said it will talk with regulators about the next steps, which probably means it's going to ask the FDA if this is enough to file for approval. If it does get approved, Lilly will have a definite first-mover advantage in the huge Alzheimer's market. No good treatments currently exist, and a rival drug by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Pfizer (PFE) and Elan (ELN) was abandoned this year after weak trial results, as IBD noted.
Lilly's stock had been declining for the second day in a row early Monday, but after the early-afternoon release it turned around. Shares were up 2.5%, near 49.50, in midafternoon trading.