Laquinimod: Severe MS-setback for Active Biotech
Petach Tikva/Lund - Active Biotech's experimental multiple sclerosis drug laquinimod failed in a phase III-trial. This is a major setback for the Swedish drug maker and its ally Teva Pharmaceutical Industries from Israel. Both companies took a beating at the stockmarkets, the announcement shaved Euro 2.2.b off Teva’s market cap, while
Active Biotech's share price plunged by 44%.
“Results showed that the BRAVO study did not achieve its primary endpoint of reducing the annualized relapse rate”, Active Biotech and Teva stated. However, there was data demonstrating significant reduction in brain-volume loss and the risk of disability progression. Study participants showed a 21.5% annual reduction in relapses, a 27.5% reduction in brain volume loss and a 33.5% reduction in the risk of disability progression as measured by the Expanded Disability Status Scale, compared to those who received a placebo, Teva said. But that won't nearly be enough.
Awkwardly for Teva, while its new drug failed to show an improvement over placebo in either relapse rates or disability progression, the study did show a benefit for Biogen Idec's rival beta-interferon injection Avonex. Teva had been hoping that Laquinimod would become a successor to its flagship drug, Copaxone, and a competitor to Novartis’ Gilenya, the first oral multiple sclerosis drug on the market. That hope has come to naught. “Laquinimod is dead, if not from a regulatory point of view, then commercially,” Ori Hershkovitz, a partner at Sphera Funds Management Ltd. in Tel Aviv, told Bloomberg on Monday.