Circassia gives up on allergy after house dust mite study fails
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[April 18, 2017] LONDON
(Reuters) - Britain's Circassia Pharmaceuticals is throwing in the towel
on allergy investment after a second high-profile clinical trial flop,
focusing instead on building a broader respiratory business.
The failure of the company's immunotherapy to perform better than
placebo in fighting dust mite allergy in a Phase IIb test follows
similar negative results in a Phase III trial against cat allergy
The company's stock lost two-third's of its value in a single
session on the June 2016 cat results, which many investors feared
undermined the allergy thesis, and the reaction on Tuesday was more
muted, with shares losing around 3 percent.
In both cases, the company said, the immunotherapy failed because of
a marked placebo effect among patients not on therapy.
The top shareholders in Circassia, which listed on the London stock
market in March 2014 in Britain's largest biotech flotation for
decades, are Invesco and Neil Woodford's investment management
company, both big backers of UK science.
Woodford suffered another setback earlier this month when Allied
Minds, which commercializes ideas from universities, announced a
Circassia Chief Executive Steve Harris said he was "naturally
disappointed" by the dust mite study failure.
"We remain convinced that the technology has biologic activity, but
we also believe the difficulty in overcoming the placebo effect
using the field study designs required by regulators represents a
significant hurdle, and consequently we will make no further
investment in our allergy portfolio," he said.
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Instead, Circassia will concentrate on its wider respiratory
business, in particular a new U.S. commercial collaboration with
AstraZeneca. Circassia last month secured U.S. rights from
AstraZeneca for two drugs to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease for up to $230 million.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Potter)
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