Karo Bio terminates Phase III for cholesterol drug
Huddinge – Full stop for one of Sweden's most promising biotech companies. Karo Bio has terminated the trial of its late-stage cholesterol drug eprotirome and won't proceed with its plans to spin off its preclinical operations. The decision was made after an animal study has demonstrated unwanted effects following long-term exposure. The thyroid hormone analogue which was designed to lower cholesterol levels in patients already taking statins seems to have caused damage to the cartilage of dogs that were given eprotirome for up to 12 months. The cartilage damage was apparent only after a year's exposure and occurred in all animals treated with high doses but was also seen in the lower dose groups. The control animals displayed no damage. "Eprotirome has been a project with great potential, but also a project with risks", CEO Per Bengtsson said. "Unfortunately, the risks associated with long term use do not outweigh the benefits [which is] why we are forced to make this difficult decision." For the Swedish biotech the news are existential. Up to now the program cost more than €11m and Kario Bio estimates to write down another €6m in the first quarter of 2012 to wind up the project.