Otsuka pulls plug on Alzheimer's agitation drug after 2nd failed trial

Otsuka Pharmaceutical is packing up an Alzheimer’s disease med after a phase 3 study failed to move the needle on measures of agitation associated with dementia.  

The results were originally issued in February, with Otsuka reporting that AVP-786 did not achieve the primary endpoint that measured a change in baseline on a rating scale of agitation compared with placebo. The therapy had been under development through Otsuka’s U.S. subsidiaries for agitation associated with dementia due to Alzheimer's.

At the time, Otsuka did not have full details of the study to present. In announcing the termination of AVP-786 today, the Japanese pharma is still keeping those details under wraps.

AVP-786 has traveled a bumpy path through the clinic, including failing a different phase 3 trial in 2019. That disappointment for the NMDA receptor antagonist came just months after Otsuka posted positive results for AVP-786 in a separate phase 3 trial.

Otsuka acquired AVP-786 from CNS specialist Avanir Pharmaceuticals in a 2015 buyout worth $3.5 billion. Also coming in that deal was Nuedexta, a treatment approved in 2010 for pseudobulbar affect (PBA), a rare disorder that causes outbursts of laughing or crying that accompany some neurological conditions.

Nuedexta uses the same chemical compound—dextromethorphan hydrobromide and quinidine sulfate—as AVP-786. Otsuka also investigated AVP-786 in early-stage trials for intermittent explosive disorder, schizophrenia and traumatic brain injury.