Merck Completes Enrollment in Pivotal Phase 3 “EPOCH” Trial Investigating the Efficacy and Safety of Verubecestat in Patients with Mild-to-Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease
January 28, 2016 8:00 am ET
APECS Study Investigating Verubecestat in Patients with Prodromal Alzheimer’s Ongoing
KENILWORTH, N.J. — Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today confirmed the completion of enrollment for the EPOCH trial, a Phase 2/3 randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, double-blind study of verubecestat, formerly known as MK-8931, the company’s investigational oral small molecule selective beta secretase (BACE1) inhibitor, in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The ongoing study commenced in November 2012, completed enrollment in the fourth quarter of 2015 and is estimated to reach primary trial completion in July 2017.
“Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating disease for which there are limited available treatments,” said Dr. David Michelson, vice president clinical research, neuroscience, Merck Research Laboratories. “This is an important milestone as we evaluate the efficacy and safety of verubecestat, and understand its potential to help address the significant unmet medical need in this progressive and debilitating disease.”
For more than 10 years, Merck has been researching ways to treat AD across the continuum of the disease—investigating ways to modify disease progression and improve management of symptoms in later stages.
The ongoing EPOCH study is designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of two oral doses of verubecestat (12 mg and 40 mg) administered once daily versus placebo in patients with mild-to-moderate AD currently using standard of care treatment. The primary efficacy outcomes of the study are the change from baseline in the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-Cog) score, as well as the change from baseline in the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study – Activities of Daily Living (ADCS-ADL) score, following 78 weeks of treatment. Merck is also investigating the safety and efficacy of verubecestat in the earlier, prodromal phase of AD in an additional Phase 3 clinical trial called APECS.
About the APECS Study
APECS is a randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, double-blind Phase 3 clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of MK-8931 in subjects with prodromal Alzheimer’s disease. The study is designed to enroll 1,500 participants. Patients will be randomized to receive placebo, or 12 mg or 40 mg MK-8931, once daily. The primary efficacy outcome of the study is change from baseline in the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale-Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB) score following 104 weeks of treatment. For more information about the APECS study, visit www.apecsstudy.com.
About BACE Inhibition
The amyloid cascade hypothesis proposes that accumulation of toxic amyloid beta peptides lead to amyloid plaque deposits in the brain. This triggers neurodegeneration in the brain leading to the progressive decline in cognition and function in patients with AD. BACE1 performs the initial step in the amyloid cascade and is believed to be central to the pathology of AD. Evidence suggests that inhibiting BACE1 decreases the production of toxic amyloid β peptide and may therefore reduce amyloid plaque formation and modify AD progression.
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