Merck Alzheimer’s Drug Fails in Trials

Feb 20, 2017

Merck has halted a trial of a promising Alzheimer’s drug, verubecestat, after it was determined that there was virtually no chance of it working.

The drugmaker announced that it will be stopping protocol 017, also known as the EPOCH study, a Phase 2/3 study evaluating verubecestat, an investigational small molecule inhibitor of the beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1, in people with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Merck is stopping the study following the recommendation of the external Data Monitoring Committee, which assessed overall benefit/risk during a recent interim safety analysis, and determined that there was “virtually no chance of finding a positive clinical effect.”

Merck will continue a parallel study of verubecestat, looking into the drug’s effect in people at a much earlier stage of the disease, when the hope is that they have so little plaque that stopping it in its tracks will prevent further symptoms.

This news comes just weeks after Denmark-based Lundbeck abandoned its investigational Alzheimer's med.

Read the Merck press release