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Lilly's Amyvid receives European endorsement

INDIANAPOLIS -- A European committee has endorsed the use of Eli Lilly and Co.'s imaging agent Amyvid for helping to diagnose Alzheimer's disease.

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use recommended approval of the agent, Lilly said Friday. That recommendation goes to the European Commission, which will decide whether to approve Amyvid for use in the European Union. The commission usually decides on the recommendations within three months.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Amyvid for sale in the United States last spring.

The radioactive imaging agent works by binding to beta-amyloid plaques and causing them to show up on positron emission tomography, or PET, scans of the patient's brain. The presence of these plaques may help indicate that a patient with cognitive problems has Alzheimer's disease, although such a scan does not definitively show that.

This plaque also is present in patients with other neurological conditions and can be found in older people with normal cognitive function. Eli Lilly, which is based in Indianapolis, has said Amyvid is one tool intended to help find the cause of a patient's cognitive decline.

Doctors diagnose Alzheimer's disease by observing patients and administering physical and mental tests. Researchers say the disease could be diagnosed sooner if they could detect amyloid plaques earlier.

Amyvid was developed by Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, which Eli Lilly bought for $300 million in 2010.

Alzheimer's disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the most common form of dementia, a term for brain disorders that affect memory, judgment and other mental functions.

The price of Lilly shares, which has climbed about 28 percent since late August, fell 53 cents to $53.28 in midmorning trading Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index also dropped less than 1 percent.