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NUTLEY, N.J. — A once-in-a-generation medicine was built on more than two decades of regret.

In 1997, Eisai launched Aricept, a revolutionary treatment for the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, invented and developed by the company’s scientists in Japan. The arrival of the drug was a galvanizing moment for Eisai — a blockbuster product for a company on the rise and the first of what was expected to be a string of medicines to slow or even reverse the effects of the disease.

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