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Esther Heerema, MSW

Potential Alzheimer's Drug Dimebon Fails in Clinical Trials

By January 22, 2012

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Dimebon, a drug that has been in phase three of clinical trials for treatment of Alzheimer's disease, has recently been discontinued after studies concluded it was ineffective. Dimebon is a drug that was first used in Russia decades ago as an antihistamine, and in the last few years has undergone testing to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's in the United States. Dimebon was never sold or marketed in the United States.

Initially, the drug showed some positive results in patients with Alzheimer's, so clinical trials were expanded to study its effects when given with the drug denepazil (Aricept), a medication currently used to treat early Alzheimer's. This past week, Pfizer and Medivation, the two drug companies that were conducting the trials, announced the discontinuation of Dimebon after it failed to show benefits for the recipients. In fact, some of the people receiving it declined more than those who received the placebo.

This is disappointing news, especially in light of our nation's recent draft document on Alzheimer's disease and other related dementias. One goal outlined in this draft is to effectively treat and prevent Alzheimer's by 2025. Evidently, the manner in which we do this won't include Dimebon.

For more information on clinical trials for Alzheimer's, feel free to visit the Alzheimer's Association TrialMatch tool, the National Institute on Aging AD Clinical Trials Database, or ClinicalTrials.gov.

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