Pfizer recognizes that it hid a drug that prevents Alzheimer’s


The American pharmaceutical Pfizer has acknowledged that one of its drugs against rheumatoid arthritis , Enbrel, reduced the risk of Alzheimer’sby 64 percent, but hid the discovery. 

As revealed by  The Washington Post , a team of researchers of the company made the discovery in 2015, but although they reported the discovery, Pfizer refused to carry out a clinical trial to confirm it scientifically. 

Thus, and always according to the newspaper, an internal report indicated in 2018 that “Enbrel could potentially prevent, treat and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. in a safe way”.

However, Pfizer has indicated that the drug has not been investigated due to the “result of a spending reassignment exercise, to focus on those areas where our portfolio of products, and our scientific expertise, are stronger.” 

The discovery was not published

In addition, the American pharmacist chose not to publicly disclose the possible discovery. “Pfizer said it chose not to publish its data because of its doubts about the results, saying that the publication of the information could have led external scientists down an invalid path,” the Washington Post has published 

This fact has aroused controversy in the international scientific community, which has not hesitated to condemn the action in the same medium, noting that the data from the study could have guided more research.

Neurologist regrets that Pfizer marginalizes Alzheimer’s research

The link between Alzheimer’s and component etanercept, a TNF-α containing the drug for arthritis of Pfizer, is a line carrying studied for over ten years. However, laboratories have not advanced much in their research, as lamented by the Spanish Society of Neurology ( SEN ). 

Pascual Sánchez, member of the Study Group on Conduct and Dementia of the scientific society, explains to Medical Staff that the first pilot studies go back to 2006 and 2008, where there is some isolated case in which it is indicated that patients who are taking Pfizer medication for arthritis improve cognitively. “In fact, there is some mini-study with a dozen individuals that try to see the effectiveness of this drug,” he explains. 

Trial in 2015

In 2015, a  clinical trial was conducted to determine if etanercept was well tolerated by patients with this neurodegenerative disease. We also wanted to obtain preliminary data about its safety, but not about its efficacy. 

“Acute and chronic systemic inflammation is characterized by the production of proinflammatory cytokines that include the tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) of immune cells.” TNF-α plays a role in the immunological systemic communication to the brain by activating the central immune response, “explain the researchers in the study published by Neurology. “In participants with dementia for Alzheimer’s,” they continue, “we have shown that moderate serum levels of TNF-α are associated with a higher rate of cognitive decline and an exaggeration of neuropsychiatric symptoms .”

The researchers note that the published data on the use of etanercept in the dementia of Alzheimer’s disease were limited until then, too small studies that aimed to administer this anti-TNF through a perispinal injection. They put forward a different hypothesis: that the peripheral administration of a TNF-α inhibitor with high affinity and specificity could if tolerated well and is safe, have long-term beneficial cognitive and behavioral efficacy in a population with Alzheimer’s dementia by the inhibition of peripheral signaling in the brain.

Well tolerated 

“Peripheral administration of TNF-α inhibitors is authorized for a wide range of rheumatologic and skin conditions in the elderly, but there are no randomized placebo-controlled trials (RPCTs) of these drugs for Alzheimer’s disease dementia that provide comparative data on tolerability, safety, or its effects (beneficial or otherwise) on clinical outcome measures  

The study demonstrated that subcutaneous etanercept (50 mg / week) was well tolerated in a small group of these patients (41). But the researchers pointed out that it should “try one  more heterogeneous and larger before recommending its use for larger groups of patients.” they 

remembered also what it should not be “considered that the current study supports the use of subcutaneous etanercept without a license for the treatment of dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease”. One of its authors is one of the voices that speak in the report of the Washington Post. “I believe that with the idea of ​​engaging pharmacists to encourage them to do a clinical trial,” says the member of the Study Group of Conduct and Dementias of the SEN. 

Potential benefit 

This American media also explains in its exclusive that the role of brain inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease has been attracting the attention of academics after the failure of multiple experimental drugs that pointed to the accumulation of plaques in brain tissue.

“People who have chronic inflammation have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s”

Thus, they recall that in 2016 researchers from the universities of Dartmouth and Harvard published an insurance claims data study , similar to the internal findings of Pfizer (for those who refused to continue investigating the possible new use of their drug) that showed a potential benefit of Enbrel. 

Enbrel “shows promise as a potential treatment” For Alzheimer’s, he pointed out.” In this study, it is said that Alzheimer’s is significantly more prevalent in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, a fact that was already known: people who have chronic inflammation have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Also, those who were taking the Pfizer drug had a decreased risk, “explains the SEN member, who points out that there is evidence in basic research. 

They ask for caution 

However, Pascual Sanchez says that “with this, we have to be very cautious“. “The example is in anti-inflammatory drugs, there are epidemiological studies that indicate that patients who take ibuprofen chronically have less risk of developing Alzheimer’s, but clinical studies have been done and it does not work,” he continues. 

And he continues: “Of course it is a piece of interesting information [published by the Washington Post ], and of course it is a line that, taking into account that others have not worked, such as amyloid, we are very interested in it.” There is strong genetic evidence and targets are being developed based on modulation of inflammation. ” 

“We urgently need the pharmaceutical laboratories to bet on Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, Pfizer has strategically abandoned the line of Neurology, and has probably been one of the reasons why not bet on it, “says Sanchez.  

The expert says that Alzheimer’s disease is very complex and” from pharmaceutically no Much progress has been made. The pharmaceutical companies that have bet for now have not achieved benefits because they have not taken new drugs, but increasingly we know more and we do better clinical trials. I think there are more options for us to find something that works. And the more you invest, and the more people think about this, the more likely we are to achieve it, “he says. 

“We need to do more trials and probably need more complex approaches to this disease, we are realizing that we will need several treatments or different simultaneous approaches to treat the disease, there are many factors that are involved, such as amyloid, TAU protein, inflammation or even p43, probably if we focus only on one factor we will not succeed, we must have a more global vision of the problem and also of the solutions “, concludes Pascual Sánchez.

Source; informador, redaccionmedica

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