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Dimebon for Alzheimer's: in journalism, from "miracle" to "flop" in 20 months

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It was just 20 months ago that ABC News called the drug dimebon a “miracle for Alzheimer’s Disease.”

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They weren’t alone in singing the drug’s praises after a preliminary trial. WebMD proclaimed, “Dimebon Shines as Alzheimer’s Therapy.”

Yesterday, MedPageToday.com reported, “Novel Alzheimer’s Drug Flops.” Excerpts of their story:

The investigational Alzheimer’s disease drug dimebon failed in the pivotal CONNECTION trial of patients with mild-to-moderate disease, the drug’s makers announced today. Latrepirdine did not result in significant gains on any of the five efficacy endpoints versus placebo after six months of treatment, according to Medivation and Pfizer, who have a partnership to develop the drug.

Peter Davies, PhD, an Alzheimer’s disease expert at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, said in an e-mail, “I am personally disappointed, but not surprised.”

“The results from the (earlier widely reported) study were too good to be true.”

There’s a reason why words like “miracle…breakthrough…promising…hope” can be troublesome in medical research stories. This is another example.

(My thanks to Andrew Holtz for his inspiration on this post.)

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