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Pfizer supressed research suggesting arthritis drug Enbrel reduced risk of Alzheimer's by 64%

Published on 06/06/19 at 10:45am

Pfizer supressed data suggesting that their drug Enbrel reduced the risk of patients developing Alzheimer’s disease by 64%.

In 2015, researchers at Pfizer found that the powerful anti-inflammatory Enbrel – which is approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in the United States – reduced the risk of patients developing Alzheimer’s disease.

However the findings, which were discovered through the analysis of hundreds of thousands of insurance claims, would have to be verified through clinical trials which Pfizer estimated would cost around $80 million.

While researchers at Pfizer’s inflammation and immunology division urged the firm to invest in clinical trials, the company refused. After several years of internal discussions Pfizer chose not to investigate further. The company also decided not to make their findings available to the public.

In justifying their decision, Pfizer have argued that they did not believe that Enbrel showed promise in Alzheimer’s disease due to the fact that it does not directly brain tissue.

Keenan Walker, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins who is conducting research into the connection between inflammation and Alzheimer’s, commented: “It would benefit the scientific community to have that data out there. Whether it was positive data or negative data, it gives us more information to make better informed decisions.”

Meanwhile Robert I Field, a professor of law and health care management at Drexel University suggested that a drug therapy for Alzheimer’s “would be a godsend for American patients, so we should be doing everything we can as a country to encourage development of treatments. It’s frustrating that there may be a missed opportunity.”

Louis Goss

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