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Sep 08, 2008
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Motivation for Medivation

With Aricept donepezil due to go off patent in 2010 and its lead program for Alzheimer's disease in Phase II, Pfizer Inc. was looking for a program to plug the gap in its AD pipeline. The pharma committed $225 million up front last week for Medivation Inc.'s dimebon, which is in a confirmatory Phase III trial. Data so far indicate dimebon could work longer and in more patients than do current drugs.

AD treatments provide symptomatic cognitive benefits for a brief period, after which doctors may switch drugs or take the patient off drugs altogether. Marketed AD drugs fall into two classes: acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors, which counter the loss of acetylcholine caused by death of cholinergic neurons, or NMDA receptor antagonists, which inhibit neuronal cell death caused by overstimulation of glutamate receptors.

AChE inhibitors include Aricept from Pfizer and Eisai Co. Ltd., Reminyl (Razadyne) galantamine from Shire plc, and Exelon rivastigmine from Novartis AG. The only marketed NMDA receptor antagonist is memantine, which was discovered by Neurobiological Technologies Inc. and is marketed by Merz GmbH & Co. KGaA as Axura in Germany, by Forest Laboratories Inc. as Namenda in the U.S., and by H. Lundbeck A/S as Ebixa in certain European countries.

"Current medications peak at three months," Medivation President and CEO David Hung told BioCentury, adding that the average patient is on Pfizer's...

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