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Neurochem to begin phase 3 clinical trials for Alzheimer’s drug in June

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Canadian Press May 19, 2004 MONTREAL (CP) – Neurochem Inc. plans to start final clinical trials next month in North America for its anti-Alzheimer's disease drug Alzhemed, the chief executive told the company's annual meeting Wednesday. Francesco Bellini said the phase three trials, lasting 18 months, will require about 950 Alzheimer's patients with a mild to moderate form of the disease, which gradually reduces memory.

Bellini described the drug as a potential block-buster that could bring huge profits to Neurochem and its shareholders. "This has a potential to be a multibillion-dollar drug," Bellini told the meeting. But he warned the clinical trials will cost $30 million US in both North America and Europe. He said there is currently no medication to treat Alzheimer's, which currently affects more than 4.5 million people in the United States alone, a figure expected to triple as the population ages.

More than 70 clinical sites have been identified to administer the drug, including 19 in Canada. Neurochem is negotiating with potential commercial partners for Alzhemed, but Bellini said he is in no hurry to strike a deal. The company, formed in 2000, has not yet had any revenues let alone profits as it attempts to bring to market three drugs in its pipeline. Bellini said none of them has a competitor.

Bellini said Neurochem expects to reap its first revenues by the end of 2005 from Febrillex for the treatment of amyloidosis, a consequence of chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. He said the market in industrialized countries for Febrillex is estimated at between $500 million US and $1 billion. Neurochem (TSX:NRM) stock was off 90 cents at $31.35 in midday trading. © The Canadian Press 2004

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