The first large-scale test of a drug to treat Alzheimer's found it to be ineffective, giving research for the mentally debilitating disease a huge setback.

Success of drug testing could impact a company

Alzheimer's research received a serious blow this week when its most recent experiment to prevent the disease proved ineffective in its first large-scale clinical trial, according to the New York Times.

On Monday, Pfizer, one of the three companies backing the research, announced that the drug, bapineuzumab, "did not improve cognition or daily functioning in patients compared to a placebo in the phase 3 trial." Doctors and Wall Street analysts had reportedly expected the drug not to work, as a phase 2 trial showed no significant effects.

Johnson & Johnson is jointly developing the drug with Pfizer, while Elan, an Irish pharmaceutical company, has also invested in the research.

Bapineuzumab is designed to bind beta-amyloid, a protein that has toxic effects in the brain, which many experts believe is the cause of Alzheimer's. Some, though, believe that the drug is being tested too late in the course of the mentally debilitating disease, and a drug needs to prevent the formation of amyloid plaque, rather than destroying it afterwards.

Dr. Samuel Gandy, director of the Center for Cognitive Health at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan, said the trials are being done on patients 25 years too late, and as such, he's not terribly surprised nor discouraged by the results of the bapineuzumab trial.

Earlier this month though, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first HIV prevention pill, called Truvada. A trial of the drug showed it was effective in reducing the risk of HIV infection by 42 percent, compared with a placebo, according to an FDA press release. 

As medical testing may not always be effective on the first trial, businesses and organizations in this field should consider pairing with a business continuity consultant to ensure that regardless of trial outcomes, the company's image does not become tarnished. These professionals will help organizations create a plan of action to react to any outcome, whether it be positive or negative.