Biotech's Weekly Round-Up of Failed Trials, Business Mishaps

 |  Includes: ANDS, ANTH, CLRB, GSK, TMO
by: The Burrill Report

Anthera Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ANTH) delayed plans for its initial public offering that was expected to begin trading February 24. The company had planned to raise $69 million in the offering. Underwriters for the Hayward, California-based company did not offer a reason for the delay when asked by Reuters. Anthera has three clinical-stage drugs in development including an experimental drug for acute cardiovascular syndrome in phase 3, and experimental drugs for Lupus and for acute chest syndrome relating to sickle cell disease in phase 2. Separately, Bloomberg reported that South San Francisco-based equipment maker Fluidigm, which had previously said it would look to go public in 2010 after cancelling an IPO in 2008, may now wait until 2011. CEO Gajus Worthington said it’s unclear the market is there and pointed to Ironwood Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ:IRWD) weak IPO performance as one of the factors in the decision.

Two U.S. Food and Drug Administration safety reviewers have recommended that GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) diabetes drug Avandia be pulled from the market because it is more dangerous to the heart than a rival medicine, according to documents released on Saturday, Reuters reported. Avandia is GSK’s second best-selling drug. The FDA will ask an advisory panel to consider the risks of the drug. Questions about a possible link to heart attacks surfaced in 2007. The FDA review comes on the heels of a report from two senators, Max Baucus and Charles Grassley, that suggested GSK knew of possible cardiac risks associated with Avandia years before the issue became public.
Life Technologies (NASDAQ:LIFE) plans to lay off 150 employees in Camarillo, California as it readies to close the facility in 2011, according to documents filed by the company to comply with the WARN act, the Ventura County Star reported. The Carlsbad, California-based tools company is set to close the plant June 30, 2011 and will phase out employees there.
Novelos Therapeutics (NVLT.OB) said its experimental drug in combination with chemotherapy to treat non-small cell lung cancer failed to meet its endpoint in a late-stage clinical trial. The primary endpoint was improvement in overall survival. The trial, conducted across approximately 100 clinical sites in 12 countries, evaluated NOV-002 in combination with first-line paclitaxel and carboplatin chemotherapy versus paclitaxel and carboplatin alone.
Anadys Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ANDS) shares fell 20 percent on news that a mid-stage study of its experimental drug for hepatitis C drug showed it was only slightly more effective at treating the virus than placebo, Associated Press reported. After 12 weeks, 73 percent of patients on the drug candidate ANA598 achieved undetectable levels of the virus, compared with 71 percent of patients on placebo. The drug was more effective than placebo in earlier time intervals, but one analyst called the 12-week results “concerning.”