Alzheimer’s drugs represent a high-risk, high-reward proposition for global pharma. As David H. Crean recently wrote for PharmaBoardroom, “Except for one good piece of news in 2014 — for a dementia drug, Namzaric — there’s nothing by way of an FDA approval going back to 2002, 17 years of failure and disaster, with Eli Lilly, Pfizer, J&J and others going over the amyloid beta cliff. Although there are many novel, innovative and disease modifying molecules that are being investigated for Alzheimer’s, around 200 candidates have been either abandoned in development or have failed in late-stage clinical trials. Many candidates that were under development are now deemed inactive because no further developments have been reported for the past 3 years. That’s made the big players leery of this field, but the prospect of being the only significant therapy on the market for millions of patients continues to fuel the drive toward something to throw against the disease. It’s the high-risk, high-reward equation that fuels activity.”
Venture investment into U.S. companies with lead Alzheimer’s disease programs from 2008 to 2017 totaled $741 million. The venture investment trend is positive, but still significantly lower than other therapeutic areas such as cancer. Lead stage programs in Alzheimer’s disease are 16 times below oncology funding ($1.0 billion vs. $16.5 billion over the last decade).