Major U.S. Pharmaceutical Company, Pfizer Inc., has recently announced that it is halting research into new treatment options and drugs for Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Pfizer was a part of the Dementia Discovery Fund, launched in 2015 as a venture capital fund with contributions from governmental, charity, and industrial organizations. The purpose of the Dementia Discovery Fund is “to provide much-needed investment in innovative dementia research.”1 As of now, other pharmaceutical giants, including GlaxoSmithKline and Eli Lilly, are still a part of the group.
Why halt research now?
Contributing factors to Pfizer’s decision to halt research into these medications may have come from failed ventures into Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease treatment options, such as the called off investigation into the drug bapinezumab. Pfizer was working in partnership with Johnson & Johnson to study this potential treatment for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease; however, the investigation was called off in 2012 after it was found to not be effective in treating this population throughout its second round of clinical trials.
What’s on the horizon for Pfizer?
Pfizer has said that it will launch a new venture fund for the purpose of investing in other neuroscience-related research projects; however, the current halt on research into these medications will result in an elimination of 300 positions from the neuroscience discovery and early development programs in Groton, Connecticut, and Cambridge and Andover, Massachusetts. Pfizer has stated that despite everything, it is currently not changing anything related to its rare disease program, fibromyalgia treatment Lyrica, or its research into tanezumab, a medication tested as a potential treatment for joint pain from osteoarthritis.
Of the decision to halt research into Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s treatments, Pfizer said, “this was an exercise to re-allocate spend across our portfolio, to focus on those areas where our pipeline, and our scientific expertise is strongest.”2
Reinforcing the importance of advocacy
Although this decision may seem disheartening, it does reinforce the importance of advocacy for important issues related to our health and the health of our loved ones. Strongly advocating for Parkinson’s treatment research, in the form of fundraising, political activism, and more, may help spread awareness on the dire need for investigating potential treatment options for this deserving population. For more information on how you, or a loved one can stay active in the Parkinson’s community, check out this article on getting involved.
Dementia Discovery Fund: Cultivating Innovation in Dementia Research. http://theddfund.com/. Accessed January 18, 2018.
Pfizer Ends Research for New Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Drugs. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pfizer-alzheimers/pfizer-ends-research-for-new-alzheimers-parkinsons-drugs-idUSKBN1EW0TN. Published January 7, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2018.