Eli Lilly Alzheimer's Drug Fails in Late-Stage Trial, But Shares Surge

Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) said on Friday that its experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s disease failed to meet two late-stage studies' primary goals, however the drug giant said a secondary analysis of the data showed “statistically significant” slowing of cognitive decline.

The company will move forward with an ongoing extension study. Results from that fully-enrolled trial will be presented in October.

Shares of Lilly opened Friday's session up about 6% to a 52-week high of $45.01.

The trials, which Lilly referred to as EXPEDITION 1 and 2, were testing a drug called solanezumab in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease.

The Indianapolis-based company said that while both studies failed to meet their goals, a pre-specified secondary analysis of pooled data across both studies showed a slowing of cognitive decline in patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease, but not in patients with moderate Alzheimer’s.

“We recognize that the solanezumab studies did not meet their primary endpoints, but we are encouraged by the pooled data that appear to show a slowing of cognitive decline," Lilly CEO John Lechleiter said in a statement.

The drug maker plans to discuss the results with regulators to explore the next steps.

Adverse events in the study of some 2,050 patients from 16 countries were lethargy, rash, malaise and angina, compared with the placebo, Lilly said.