Medivation Fails Alzheimer’s Trial, Pfizer Drops Out of Partnership

Xconomy San Francisco — 

Medivation’s long shot for Alzheimer’s came up short today. The San Francisco-based company (NASDAQ: MDVN) said today its Alzheimer’s drug candidate dimebon failed in a pivotal clinical trial. Medivation and its collaborator, Pfizer, said they plan to quit developing the drug.

The bad news came from a trial known as Concert, which enrolled more than 1,000 patients with mild to moderate symptoms of Alzheimer’s, the neurodegenerative disease that impairs the memory and cognition of millions of elderly people. The drug failed to show a statistically significant benefit on a common cognition score, or a measurement of activities of daily living and self-care.

“We are disappointed in the Concert results and the implications for Alzheimer’s disease patients and their caregivers,” said David Hung, Medivation’s CEO, in a statement.

The Medivation drug, original developed in Russia in the 1980s as an allergy treatment, showed some promise in a smaller study Medivation conducted including more than 180 patients with Alzheimer’s, which was published in 2008. But investors largely gave up on the drug when Medivation and Pfizer failed to reproduce the results in March 2010 in a pivotal trial of about 600 patients, known as Connection. Medivation suffered layoffs after that setback, but it has made a comeback on the strength of a prostate cancer drug called MDV3100, which showed last November that it was able to help men live longer. Details from that trial are expected to come out this year at a medical meeting.

“Given Dimebon’s poor precedence from its Phase III Connection trial in 2010, the failure of Concert should come as no surprise. Investor focus should remain on MDV3100 for prostate cancer,” said Biren Amin of Jefferies & Co., in a note to clients this morning. He notes that the full data from the pivotal study of MDV3100 is expected to be released at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Genitourinary symposium, scheduled for February 2-4.

Shares of Medivation fell 1.2 percent to $55.01 shortly after the opening bell.