Gammagard’s Failure

So far as Baxter’s Gammagard was concerned, there was absolutely no ‘buzz’ of anticipation in the neuroscience community, and we had said in last September’s review of Alzheimer’s that “Our suspicion is that, once again, a small open-label subset of patients will not prove to be predictive of a properly-executed trial.” But while not a surprise, it was  disappointing to see Baxter’s announcement that Gammagard had failed in a “Phase III” trial. While Baxter noted ‘numerical differences’ between groups, it is a far cry from the arrest of decline that had been claimed for some patients in the pilot study.

But there are two silver linings here: First, at least Baxter only ran a 390pt trial, making this a far less expensive failure than were the massive programs for bapi/sola. Secondly, we are spared the prospect of an allocation nightmare that would have raised to an even higher profile the persistent conflict–particularly in the US–around economic class and power. With millions of AD patients, and enough Gammagard for a couple hundred thousand, the process by which recipients would have been chosen–some form of rationing–would have been a potentially mortal blow to what remains of the tattered American ideal of egalitarianism.

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