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News, Opinions and Advice regarding the U.S. Home Health Care Industry

U.S. OKs Alzheimer’s drug to treat severe dementia

October 14th, 2006 by

Fri Oct 13, 2006 9:28 PM BST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday cleared Eisai Co. Ltd.’s blockbuster Alzheimer’s drug, Aricept, to treat severe dementia in patients with the degenerative brain disease.

The drug, which is also marketed by Pfizer Inc., is already approved to treat mild to moderate dementia in sufferers of Alzheimer’s, which affects roughly 4.5 million mostly older Americans.

There is no cure for the condition, typified by memory loss and other cognitive impairment that can quickly worsen. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.

Eisai, based in Japan, earlier this month cited growing U.S. sales of the drug thanks to Medicare’s new prescription drug benefit for the elderly and disabled.

It has forecast total Aricept sales at 226 billion yen, or $1.9 billion, for the fiscal year through March 2007. Some analysts have said that estimate is conservative, but company officials have declined to comment.

Eisai shares closed off less than 1 percent on the Tokyo Stock Exchange earlier on Friday. Pfizer shares closed off 6 cents at $27.59 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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