Eli Lilly falls 9% after its Alzheimer’s drug data underwhelms Wall Street

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Lilly is seen on a wall of the Lilly France company unit, part of the Eli Lilly and Co drugmaker group, in Fegersheim near Strasbourg, France, February 1, 2018. Picture taken February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler
The logo of Lilly is seen on a wall of the Lilly France company unit, part of the Eli Lilly and Co drugmaker group, in Fegersheim near Strasbourg

  • Eli Lilly fell 9% on Monday after additional data for its Alzheimer’s drug, donanemab, was released in The New England Journal of Medicine over the weekend.
  • The drug showed “no substantial difference” than a placebo in secondary outcomes like an improvement in scores on the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale Sum of Boxes.
  • An effective Alzheimer’s drug has been viewed as the holy grail in the biotech industry as it represents a significant unmet need.
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Eli Lilly fell as much as 9% on Tuesday after additional data for its Alzheimer’s drug candidate, donanemab, was released in The New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the 2021 International Conference on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases over the weekend.

The data reinforced previously released top-line data that showed donanemab slowed the cognitive decline in patients with early symptoms of dementia.

But donanemab showed “no substantial difference” than a placebo for secondary outcomes, like improvement in scores on the clinical dementia rating scale-sum of boxes and the 13-item Alzheimer’s disease assessment scale-cognitive subscale, according to the data.

“The use of donanemab resulted in a better composite score for cognition and for the ability to perform activities of daily living than placebo at 76 weeks, although results for secondary outcomes were mixed,” researchers said in The New England Journal of Medicine.

A successful Alzheimer’s drug has been viewed as the holy grail in the biotech industry, as it would help combat a devastating disease that represents a large unmet need. Biogen is another biotech company that is working on a highly anticipated Alzheimer’s drug candidate, aducanumab.

JPMorgan analyst Cory Kasimov said in a note on Monday based on the data so far, Eli Lilly’s donanemab “isn’t yet a clearly superior drug to [Biogen’s] aducanumab,” and that “it’s less likely donanemab is approved early on the basis of these results.”

Another phase 2 trial for donanemab is underway to gauge the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of the drug.

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