Back to top

Merck (MRK) Halts Another Late Stage Study on Alzheimer's

Read MoreHide Full Article

Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK - Free Report) announced that it is discontinuing another study evaluating verubecestat for the treatment of prodromal Alzheimer’s disease as its success was unlikely.

APECS was a phase III study evaluating the efficacy and safety of verubecestat, an oral β-amyloid precursor protein site-cleaving enzyme (BACE) inhibitor, versus placebo.

The study was stopped on the recommendation of an external data monitoring committee, which assessed the study’s overall benefit/risk during a recent interim safety analysis. The committee said that the chances of observing positive risk/benefit profile in the study, if it continued, were slim.

Shares of Merck declined almost 1% on Tuesday. In the past year, Merck’s shares have underperformed the industry. Merck’s shares have declined 15.8% in the period against a 10% increase for the industry.

In February last year, Merck had discontinued another study, EPOCH (phase II/III), on verubecestat, which was evaluating it for mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease due to lack of efficacy. At that time, the committee had recommended that the APECS study continue unchanged. 

The Alzheimer’s disease market has attracted a lot of attention from several companies. However, the successful development of therapies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease is challenging and we note that several companies have failed in this regard.

Last month, Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) reportedly said in a statement that it will end R&D efforts in the Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease areas, which will result in about 300 layoffs.

Long back, Pfizer shelved its late-stage Alzheimer’s candidate, bapineuzumab IV after it failed two phase III studies.

In December 2017, Biogen (BIIB - Free Report) announced that an Alzheimer’s disease study on BAN2401 failed to show early positive results, which raised investor concern about the candidate’s chances of success.

In November 2016, Lilly’s (LLY - Free Report) anti-amyloid candidate solanezumab failed to meet the primary endpoint in a late-stage AD study. Lilly decided to drop the development of solanezumab. Lilly also suffered a major setback in August 2010, when it had to halt the development of another phase III Alzheimer’s candidate, semagacestat.

The Alzheimer’s disease market represents huge commercial potential and a successfully developed product could generate billions of dollars in sales once launched.

Merck carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Don’t Even Think About Buying Bitcoin Until You Read This

The most popular cryptocurrency skyrocketed last year, giving some investors the chance to bank 20X returns or even more. Those gains, however, came with serious volatility and risk. Bitcoin sank 25% or more 3 times in 2017.

Zacks’ has just released a new Special Report to help readers capitalize on the explosive profit potential of Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies with significantly less volatility than buying them directly.

See 4 crypto-related stocks now >>




In-Depth Zacks Research for the Tickers Above


Normally $25 each - click below to receive one report FREE:


Pfizer Inc. (PFE) - free report >>

Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) - free report >>

Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) - free report >>

Biogen Inc. (BIIB) - free report >>


More from Zacks Analyst Blog

You May Like