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Axovant’s drug bested by placebo, shares reduced to dust

Published on 08/01/18 at 03:31pm

The signs were already there for Axovant Sciences’ key drug, intepirdine, when it posted poor results from a recent study back in September and the latest findings have confirmed the company’s fears, its product is a non-starter for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

The findings will see the drug chalked up as part of an unenviable group of expensive failures in the treatment of dementia, made all the worse by the fact therapies in the area are sadly lacking.

The readout was perhaps worse than could be expected, even for a drug that cost $5 million – with lower doses of intepirdine actually performing consistently worse than placebo. In the Headway study, 35mg of the treatment showed a 2.01 worsening against placebo on the Scale for the Assessment of Positive Symptoms - Parkinson's Disease. This trend held true in cognition scores, where 35mg resulted in a 0.47 worsening compared with placebo.

“Based on the totality of intepirdine data to date, there is no evidence to support its further development. We are incredibly disappointed and saddened for the millions of people living with these difficult conditions, and are deeply grateful to the patients, caregivers and investigators who participated in our trials,” said David Hung, Chief Executive Officer of Axovant.

The failure of the treatment is an expensive lesson but one that looks unlikely to entirely knock the Vant family of companies from continuing on its path of taking previously dropped candidates from the industry back to trial.

In the same release, Axovant announced that another of its candidates, nelotanserin, for the treatment of dementia with lewy bodies who were experiencing visual hallucinations had met its primary endpoint of safety. In addition, it seemed to have shown some improvement for patients on the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale part III.

After such a crushing failure in its lead candidate, it remains unlikely that investors will take this glimmer of hope too optimistically. Axovant shares were trading down at $2.76, after having previously been as high as $25 in September of last year.

Ben Hargreaves

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