By Julie Steenhuysen and Andrew Silver
CHICAGO/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Japan’s Eisai aims to make its Alzheimer’s drug Lechembi available to 1,500 people in China later this year, but expects development to be significantly accelerated in 2025 as diagnosis methods change, the company said. a spokesman told Reuters.
The spokesperson said a more convenient Alzheimer’s blood test is expected to be ready, which could help Eisai reach a larger share of China’s estimated 17 million people with the early-stage disease.
“China is one of the fastest-aging countries in the world and one of the most important countries for Christian in the field of Alzheimer’s disease,” a company spokesperson said. “The potential growth for Lecambi in China is huge.”
Eli Lilly, which is developing a similar treatment called donanemab, told Reuters it has applied for approval in China. The Indianapolis-based company is now testing its drug on 1,500 people with volunteers in China, Taiwan, South Korea and the European Union, a spokeswoman said.
The size of Eisai’s planned China rollout and Lilly’s filing of the approval application have not been previously reported.
Lekambi, which works by removing a toxic protein called beta amyloid from the brain, is the first Alzheimer’s treatment proven to alter the course of the deadly, brain-wasting disease. China approved Lecambi in January.
Eisai and US partner Biogen have already launched Lecambi in the United States and Japan, and it is undergoing review in Europe.
In clinical trials for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, treatment given by infusion twice a month slowed disease progression by 27%.
Dr. Liu Zhou, an Alzheimer’s expert, said the effectiveness of current treatments available in China is limited, and the results of CHRISTIAN’s trial give patients “a lot of hope”…