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Biogen Stock Leaps, Eli Lilly Gains As Roche Alzheimer's Drug Trial Falls Short

"While the (trial) results are not what we hoped, we are proud to have delivered a high quality, clear and comprehensive Alzheimer’s dataset to the field," Roche said.

Updated at 10:32 am EST

Biogen  (BIIB) - Get Free Report shares surged higher Monday, with rival Eli Lilly  (LLY) - Get Free Report moving firmly into the green alongside, following a disappointing update on a developing Alzheimer's treatment from European drugmaker Roche AG  (RHHBY) .

Roche said Monday that trials of gantenerumab, a drug used to treat patients with early-stage Alzheimer's, failed to reach the primary endpoint of preserving cognitive functions affected by the disease. Each trial lasted two years, Roche said, and included 1,000 participants but only indicated modest improvements in cognitive declines, when compared to those given a placebo.

"While the (trial) results are not what we hoped, we are proud to have delivered a high quality, clear and comprehensive Alzheimer’s dataset to the field, and we look forward to sharing our learnings with the community as we continue to search for new treatments for this complex disease,” said Roche's chief medical officer Levi Garraway. 

The results leave Biogen, which unveiled better-than-expected results from a late-stage study of its Alzheimer's treatment developed with Japan-based partner Eisai Co Ltd., as well as Eli Lilly, as potential market leaders in the multi-billion market. 

Earlier this year, Eli Lilly said that its investigational antibody, donanemab, showed a 32% reduction in a composite measure of cognition and daily function in trial patients suffering early symptomatic Alzheimer's disease following Phase 2 trials.

Eli Lilly shares were marked 0.1% higher in early Monday trading to change hands at $352.90 each while Biogen jumped 5.1% to $304.13 each.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder that affects more than 50 million people around the world. To date, no drug has been found to address the disease, which can accelerate into dementia and other more serious cognitive conditions.

Treatment pricing, however, has been a controversial issue and the U.S. Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services noted in September that its decision to only cover treatment with Aduhelm -- Biogen's FDA-approved Alzheimer's drug -- if patients are enrolled in a clinical trial as a major factor in lowering overall premiums for Medicare Part B.

Biogen was forced to slash the price of Aduhelm by around 50%, to $28,200 per year, in order to help expand its potential reach following the CMS decision late last year. 

Aduhelm, Biogen noted in earlier studies, has been show to erode amyloid beta, a plaque which builds up around the brain and can lead to neuron damage.

The FDA approved Aduhelm for the treatment of Alzheimer’s through its accelerated approval pathway, which can be used for a drug for a serious or life-threatening illness that provides a meaningful therapeutic advantage over existing treatments, last year.