UPDATE 1-BioCryst gout drug shows promise in mid-stage trial

Thu Sep 16, 2010 7:50am EDT

* Cuts uric acid levels in combination with standard drug

* Combination of drugs more effective than standard care

* Plans to start 200-patient study in early 2011

Sept 16 (Reuters) - BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc (BCRX.O) said a mid-stage study showed a combination of its experimental gout treatment and a standard drug was superior to the standard drug alone in reducing uric acid levels in blood, the main cause of gout.

The study evaluated the uric acid-lowering activity and safety of several doses of the drug, BCX4208, alone and in combination with selected doses of the standard drug, allopurinol, administered once-daily.

The company said 87 gout patients either received BCX4208 at daily doses of 20 mg, 40 mg and 80 mg alone, or in combination with allopurinol at daily doses of 100 mg, 200 mg and 300 mg.

The doses of BCX4208 alone and in combination with allopurinol were generally safe and well-tolerated, BioCryst said.

The company is now finalizing the plans for a 12-week study of BCX4208 as an add-on therapy in gout patients who have failed to adequately respond to allopurinol.

"We look forward to starting this study in early 2011 and plan to enroll over 200 patients," Chief Medical Officer William Sheridan said in a statement.

On Tuesday, U.S. health regulators approved the use of Savient Pharmaceuticals Inc's SVNT.O gout drug in adults who do not respond to other treatments or cannot take alternatives for various reasons. [ID:nSGE68E0FS]

Other U.S. companies developing gout treatments are Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (REGN.O) and Ardea Biosciences Inc RDEA.O. Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG (NOVN.VX) is also developing a treatment for gout.

About 5 million Americans suffer from gout, in which a build up of uric acid causes swollen joints.

Shares of Birmingham, Alabama-based BioCryst closed at $5.10 Wednesday on Nasdaq. They have lost 16 percent since the company reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss on Aug. 5. (Reporting by Esha Dey in Bangalore; Editing by Vinu Pilakkott)

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