Pfizer didn't reveal drug's Alzheimer's preventing abilities

A U.S. drug company did not openly share or perform further studies on a successful rheumatoid arthritis medicine that internal researchers suggested was reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease by 64 percent, according to Washington Post article published Tuesday.

Researchers at Pfizer reportedly urged the firm to conduct a clinical trial after finding the potential hidden benefit of the anti-inflammatory drug Enbrel while analyzing insurance claims.

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It was estimated to cost $80 million to conduct the trial, and Pfizer decided to pass.

Pfizer told the Post it did not pursue the clinical trial because its success rate would likely be low.

Enbrel had reached the end of its patent life and its profits were dwindling, meaning it may have made little business sense to invest in the trial, according to the Post.

Outside researchers said it would've helped the medical community for Pfizer to publish its findings, since doing so could have led to further discoveries about the complicated disease.

“It would benefit the scientific community to have that data out there,’’ said Keenan Walker, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins who is studying how inflammation contributes to Alzheimer’s. “Whether it was positive data or negative data, it gives us more information to make better informed decisions.’’

At least one medical ethicist agreed.

"Having acquired the knowledge, refusing to disclose it to those who might act upon it hides a potential benefit, and thereby wrongs and probably harms those at risk of developing Alzheimer’s by impeding research,’’ Bobbie Farsides, professor of clinical and biomedical ethics at Brighton and Sussex Medical School in the United Kingdom, told the Post.

In a statement to The Hill, Pfizer said, "Our decision not to publish a statistical analysis of insurance claims data, and our decision not to pursue a broader clinical trial in Alzheimer’s disease based on such statistical analysis were based first and foremost on scientific rationale and not on the basis of financial incentives as the story seems to imply."

Updated at 3:10 p.m.