In a few weeks, investors will know if Eli Lilly's (LLY) solanezumab is a groundbreaking treatment for Alzheimer's or another drug casualty to a horrible disease that has eluded pharmaceutical companies for years.
Here's a preview to help you prepare for Lilly's big Alzheimer's clinical trial data release.
What is at stake with the solanezumab Alzheimer's clinical trial results? I keep hearing this is the biggest biopharma event in 2016, but why?
Alzheimer's is a progressive neurological disease that damages and destroys nerve cells in the brain, leading to memory loss, dementia and the inability to function. More than five million Americans (35 million people worldwide) are diagnosed with Alzheimer's -- the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S.
There are no medicines approved today capable of stopping or even slowing the underlying progression of Alzheimer's. The only drugs available today treat the symptoms of the disease.
Alzheimer's is a horrible, tragic illness. At the risk of sounding crass, it's also an immense money-making opportunity for any company (and its investors) which develops an effective, disease-modifying therapy. That's why the looming outcome from Lilly's solanezumab study is such a big event for biopharma.
When is Eli Lilly announcing the solanezumab study results?
The phase III study, which Lilly calls Expedition-3, is expected to read out in December, perhaps as early as the first full week of the month. And let's start using the drug's shortened nickname -- "sola." Much easier.
Lilly is a stodgy pharma company. There's no way Lilly's stock price moves that much even if the sola study is positive, right?
Here's some perspective: In 2016, $236 billion will be spent to care for Americans who suffer from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. A disease-modifying Alzheimer's drug could generate $5 billion to $10 billion in peak annual sales, maybe even more, depending on a lot of factors not yet known.
Right now, Lilly's top-selling drug, the insulin Humalog, is expected to deliver sales of $2.7 billion this year. If sola works and is approved, the drug would be the biggest revenue-generating product for Lilly by multiples.