Alzheimer’s conditions worsen during experimental treatment

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Pharmaceutical developer Eli Lilly and Company halted testing of its new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease when preliminary results showed the drug actually worsened measures of cognition.

The company announced semagacestat, a gamma secretase inhibitor, endured two on-going long-term studies, during which the drug not only failed at slowing Alzheimer’s progression, but also affected the ability to perform activities of daily living.

“This is a setback, but Lilly’s commitment to beating Alzheimer’s will not waver,” said Jan M. Lundberg, PhD, executive vice president, Science and Technology, and president, Lilly Research Laboratories.

During the two trials, which began in 2008, the drug was compared with placebo in more than 2,600 patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease, according to a company release. An interim analysis showed that, as expected, cognition and the ability to complete activities of daily living of placebo-treated patients worsened. However, by these same measures, patients treated with semagacestat worsened to a statistically greater degree than those treated with placebo. In addition, data showed semagacestat is associated with an increased risk of skin cancer compared with those who received placebo.

Gentiva completes $1 billion Odyssey acquisition

Gentiva Health Services, Inc., a provider of home health and hospice services, has closed on the $1 billion acquisition of Odyssey HealthCare, Inc., in an all-cash transaction. Gentiva paid $27 per share of Odyssey common stock, without interest, along with other fees and expenses.

The combination of Gentiva and Odyssey creates the largest U.S. provider of home health services based on revenue. It also creates the nation’s second largest hospice provider, second to VITAS Hospice Services. The combined hospice operations of Odyssey and Gentiva provide care to an average daily patient census of approximately 14,000 in 30 states.

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Gentiva raised $1.1 billion in new debt financing to fund the purchase price and refinance existing debt.

“I would like to welcome all of the Odyssey employees to the Gentiva family and I look forward to building the best home care company in America with their help,” commented Gentiva CEO Tony Strange. “This is truly a transformational transaction for both companies, creating the largest home health and hospice company in the [United States], providing service to over 330,000 patients and families annually.”

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Long-Term Living 2010 September;59(9):12

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