Avanir shares plunge after pain drug fails in trial

Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:18am EST

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(Reuters) - Shares of Avanir Pharmaceuticals Inc (AVNR.O) fell 17 percent in premarket trading on Wednesday, a day after the company said its experimental drug failed to reduce pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.

The mid-stage trial showed the drug was no better than a placebo in reducing pain, the company said on Tuesday.

Avanir said the study compared three doses of the drug, codenamed AVP-923, with a placebo in 209 multiple sclerosis (MS) patients for 12 weeks.

The drug was found to be generally safe and well-tolerated, the company said.

AVP-923 is also being developed to treat agitation associated with Alzheimer's disease, dyskeynesia associated with Parkinson's disease and diabetic neuropathic pain.

"We did not include the MS pain indication in our valuation of Avanir as we viewed the program as very risky," Jefferies analysts said in a note, maintaining their "hold" rating.

Avanir also reported fourth-quarter results that fell shy of Wall Street estimates.

Shares of the Viejo, California-based company were trading at $3.56 before the bell. They closed at $4.29 on the Nasdaq on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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