Otsuka Pharmaceutical has axed the development of its dementia drug, AVP-786, following a disappointing Phase III readout (NCT03393520).

The Japanese company was investigating the therapy as a potential treatment for patients with agitation associated with dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Otsuka completed the recent Phase III study in December 2023, reporting the official study results in February 2024.

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In the randomised, double-blind study, AVP-786 demonstrated no significant difference in the primary endpoint of mean change in the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory total score compared to the placebo. As per the 22 May press release, the decision to terminate the drug’s development followed a complete data analysis of the Phase III trial.

AVP-786 is a dextromethorphan/quinidine combination that works by antagonising NMDA receptors and agonising Sigma-1 receptors amongst other effects. The therapy is a second-generation treatment, derived from Avanir Pharmaceuticals’ Nuedexta (AVP-923). Otsuka acquired Avanir in a $3.5bn deal in December 2014. Nuedexta is a first-in-class dual-action glutamate inhibitor approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of pseudobulbar affect (PBA) associated with certain neurological conditions, including multiple sclerosis, in December 2010.

Otsuka is the developer of the only FDA-approved treatment for the agitation associated with dementia due to AD, Rexulti (brexpiprazole), which received approval in November 2023.

According to GlobalData, there are seven therapies in Phase III trials for dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This includes trials studying Auvelity—Axsome Therapeutics bupropion / dextromethorphan combination therapy, and Novo Nordisk’s semaglutide. Novo Nordisk’s drug is approved for the treatment of weight loss and diabetes, under the brand names Wegovy and Ozempic.

Pharma companies are actively trying to push the scope of these GLP-1 receptor agonists, with trials now exploring them as treatments for neurological disorders and fatty liver disease.

Novo Nordisk predicts that the Phase III AD trial with semaglutide will be completed in October 2026.

GlobalData is the parent company of Pharmaceutical Technology.

As per the recent press release, Otsuka has declared that it will continue developing therapies for agitation associated with AD.