Bapineuzumab, the potential megablockbuster Alzheimer's treatment, is dead. Not surprisingly, the drug failed another clinical trial, and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) have decided to discontinue the phase 3 program.

The winner here? Elan (NYSE: ELN). Sure the biotech still had a stake in bapineuzumab and shares were down more than 12% on the news today before paring those losses a bit. But it could have been worse.

Elan used to own half of bapineuzumab, but sold half of its stake in the drug to Johnson & Johnson. As part of the deal, Johnson & Johnson funded the first $500 million of its share of the development costs and picked up half of the costs beyond that. Johnson & Johnson also invested $885 million in Elan for $8.25 per share, which provided an infusion of cash that helped get its finances in order.

If Elan is a winner, then obviously Johnson & Johnson is the big loser in all this. Part of the attraction to Elan was a side deal that could have put it in the driver's seat to buy Biogen Idec (Nasdaq: BIIB), but that got thrown out in court. Considering how weak the phase 2 data was, Johnson & Johnson took a big risk that didn't pay off. On the plus side, its stake in Elan is up about 30%, which should help fund some of the development costs.

We can give Pfizer a pass on this one. It inherited bapineuzumab through the acquisition of Wyeth, but the drug was more gravy than a motivating factor for the purchase. Besides finding a sucker to buy some or all of the rights to its half of the drug, there wasn't much Pfizer could do.

Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) is an innocent bystander in all this, but its stock is down a few points today because it has an Alzheimer's drug, solanezumab, that works in much the same way as bapineuzumab. Any remaining hope in solanezumab seems to be rapidly fading.

Fool analysts think these three Dow stocks are winners. Find out what they are and why the analysts like them so much in the Fool's free report "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need."

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.