CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The fate of the most promising Alzheimer’s drug in decades was sealed with a text message.

It was sent to Al Sandrock, one of the most celebrated drug developers of his generation. He and his employer, Biogen, the pioneering biotech firm, had spent a dozen years and hundreds of millions of dollars developing the drug. It was the talk of neuroscience; it had been featured on the cover of Fortune — a sign of hope for the entire field.

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