(Reuters) - An experimental drug to treat Alzheimer's disease proved effective in improving cognitive performance in a mid-stage study, Danish pharmaceutical group Lundbeck, one of the drug's two developer's, said on Tuesday.
The drug, Lu AE58054, showed statistically significant cognitive improvement in a Phase II clinical trial of patients suffering from moderate Alzheimer's, when used as an add-on to the drug donepezil for six months.
Lundbeck is developing the drug jointly with Japan's Otsuka to treat Alzheimer's, a degenerative brain disease that causes progressive memory loss.
"Lu AE58054 potentially represents a new approach to Alzheimer's disease and a continuation of Lundbeck's commitment to addressing this complicated disease," Anders Gersel Pedersen, head of research and development at Lundbeck, said in a statement.
Lundbeck agreed to develop the treatment with Otsuka in March, with hopes that it will help offset falling sales of drugs that are losing exclusivity.
It has said the drug could have the potential to generate sales in the United States of over $1 billion per year, a level that is considered blockbuster for a drug.
Lundbeck and Otsuka will initiate a Phase III clinical program in about 3,000 patients during the second half of 2013.
Donepezil is made by Eisai and Pfizer and sold under the brand name Aricept.
(Reporting by Mia Shanley in Stockholm; Editing by Leslie Adler)