Good clinical trial results are always welcomed. Earlier this week, drug delivery expert Alkermes (NASDAQ:ALKS) announced positive results and the advancement into later-stage studies of a potential treatment for alcohol dependence.

Details were light on the results of the study that prompted Alkermes to continue development of ALKS 29. The company did note that results were statistically significant across a range of efficacy endpoints, including percent of days abstinent and decrease in drinking compared to placebo in combination with psychosocial therapy.

Alkermes successfully shepherded another alcohol dependence treatment, named Vivitrol, through the regulatory process last year. Sales of the injectable medication by partner Cephalon (NASDAQ:CEPH) have been rather anemic to date, and guidance for fiscal 2008 sales by Alkermes is expected to be only $15 million to $20 million. Alkermes' manufacturing gross margins on the product are expected to be in the single-million-dollar range, at best.

Although there are other oral medications on the market already, another oral treatment for alcoholism such as ALKS 29 could do better in the market than Vivitrol. Such a treatment could address some of the problems that have hampered the use of Vivitrol, like its high cost and the fact that it must be administered via injection.

Despite this early clinical-stage success, Alkermes' future will clearly be determined by how well its two late-stage diabetes compounds, under development with Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) and Amylin Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AMLN), perform in their phase 3 studies and what the rapidly changing market for diabetes treatments will look like in a few years.

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Fool contributor Brian Lawler does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Eli Lilly is an Income Investor recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.