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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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July 14, 2014

Targacept Fumbles the Bad News on Alzheimer's

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Posted by Derek

Targacept has been working on some very hard therapeutic areas over the years, and coming up dry - dramatically so. They may have just done it again.

They've been testing TC-1734 in Alzheimer's over the last year or so, a partial agonist at nicotinergic receptors. That was a long-shot mechanism to start with, although to be sure, every Alzheimer's drug is a long-shot mechanism. This would be a stopgap compound even if it worked, like the existing acetylcholinesterase compound Donepezil.

And the company has apparently released the results of the clinical trial on its web site, inadvertently, you'd have to assume. The news first came out from BioRunUp on Twitter, and the text of the announcement was the the compound had failed to show superiority to Donepezil. The company has made no official announcement (as I write, anyway), and the press release itself appears to have been taken down a little while ago. But here's a screen shot, if you're interested. The stock (TRGT) has already reacted to the news, as you'd imagine it would, suddenly dropping like a brick starting at just before 2:30 PM EST. Not a good way to get the news out, that's for sure. . .

Comments (10) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Alzheimer's Disease | Clinical Trials


1. PorkPieHat on July 14, 2014 4:39 PM writes...

Looks like they have one last shot, at Overactive Bladder. What happened to this company? They went from being one of the most promising biotech stories to one clinical study short of a cautionary tale in biotech.

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2. Anonymous on July 14, 2014 5:19 PM writes...

"The stock (TGRT) has already reacted to the news, as you'd imagine it would, suddenly dropping like a brick starting at just before 2:30 PM EST"

And strangely it has gone all the way back up by 4pm EST.

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3. Anonymous on July 14, 2014 6:07 PM writes...

given that it failed an earlier mid-stage trial my guess is the market had already factored the failure into the stock price. So early reactionary negative stock reaction, then realization that the valuation included failure followed by rejoicing that they won't be spending any more money on this compound - hence the market rebound. I've seen this once in a dramatic way when flurizan failed PhIII and Myriad's stock actually went up significantly.

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4. YoureInPeePee on July 14, 2014 9:50 PM writes...

Targacept's valuation is all in the OAB clinical trial. They will have >$100M and no clinical asset of their own if OAB fails, and no defining internal research. Just the same (mis) management that go it to where it sits now. Will investors take back the money or let them squander it further?

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5. k on July 15, 2014 4:49 AM writes...

Even if it is not better than the existing drug; is it atleast as good ?

"Me too" drugs have atleast some value- for patiets who cannot tolerate one drug may sometimes be able to take the other.

The value may be that competition may drive the prices of an existing expensive drug down.

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6. Anonymous on July 15, 2014 5:04 AM writes...

I see this whole affair as desperate and reckless gambling, squandering more good money after bad to try recover prior losses following bad data. Terrible management.

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7. Rhenium on July 15, 2014 10:54 AM writes...

@6. True, but if it had worked it would have been called "brilliant management"...

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8. Anonymous on July 15, 2014 1:22 PM writes...

Given their track record (even with the new regime), hard to see how anything they did clinically could be called "brilliant". If they succeed in overactive bladder, it might begin a turnaround.

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9. Anonymous on July 16, 2014 12:25 AM writes...

@7: No, it would still be terrible, and just very lucky. Winning the lottery doesn't make playing it a "brilliant" decision.

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10. Anonymous on July 16, 2014 7:48 AM writes...

Has anyone wondered if this company's actions related to their depression clinical trials constitutes fraud? The disconnect between their phase II / III results in those trials is beyond the pale.

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