Report: Pfizer passed on promising Alzheimer’s research

June 5, 2019

A few years ago, researchers inside Pfizer reportedly discovered that one of the company’s blockbuster drugs could be a breakthrough treatment for Alzheimer’s. But instead of investigating further, Pfizer dropped the research and failed to make the data public. 

In a recent report, the company admitted that studies showed its rheumatoid arthritis medication Enbrel could potentially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 64 percent. Although researchers inside Pfizer’s inflammation and immunology lobbied for further trials, the company estimated that it would cost $80 million to verify if the data, pooled from hundreds of thousands of insurance claims, could be valid.  

The revelation has raised criticisms that Pfizer un-ethically balked at conducting critical research into a debilitating disease that still has no cure. But the company said that after three years of review, it did not believe Enbrel could be a viable tool against Alzheimer’s because it does not directly impact the brain. 

In addition to its concerns about the science behind the data, Enbrel is also facing generics competition and will soon become a much less profitable drug for Pfizer. And the likelihood of Enbrel being approved for a new disease isn’t high, making the clinical trials investment less attractive.

Nevertheless, several scientists have complained that at the very least, Pfizer should publish its scientific data in case it helps further other research. 

Read the full Daily Herald report.