Dead Ends in Alzheimer’s Research Expose Need for New Drug Studies

A review of existing research for pharmacological answers to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) catalogs a litany of failures and calls for an aggressive re-dedication to increase the AD drug development pipeline.

The first of its kind research study is published in the journal Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy.

“Our goal was to examine historical trends to help understand why Alzheimer’s disease treatment development efforts so often fail,” said Jeffrey L. Cummings, M.D., Sc.D., director of the Cleveland Clinic.

“With an estimated 44 million people living worldwide with the condition, the study shows that the Alzheimer’s disease drug development ecosystem needs more support given the magnitude of the problem.”

The comprehensive look at all clinical trials underway revealed:
•• there are relatively few drugs in development for Alzheimer’s disease;
•• the failure rate for AD drug development is 99.6 percent for the decade 2002-2012;
•• the number of drugs has been declining since 2009.

Using the advanced search mechanisms of, a government website that records all ongoing clinical trials, Dr. Cummings, along with Kate Zhong, M.D., senior director of clinical research and development, and Touro University medical student Travis Morstorf, constructed a comprehensive analysis to examine all trials since 2002.

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