* Selexipag is new drug for pulmonary arterial hypertension
* Final results due by mid 2014
* Actelion looking for alternatives to main drug Tracleer
(Adds details, background)
ZURICH, May 8 Actelion should continue
a late-stage study into a new heart and lung drug, independent
monitors have recommended, with final results now expected by
mid-2014, giving the biotech firm hope it has a further product
in its pipeline.
Actelion said in a statement the Independent Data Monitoring
Committee had told the company it had unanimously recommended
the continuation of a late-stage study in selexipag with no
modifications, adding final results should come next year.
Selexipag is the third drug from Actelion to treat pulmonary
arterial hypertension (PAH), a progressively worsening condition
characterised by abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries
of the lungs. The cause is unknown and the disease has no cure.
The company received a boost last year after Opsumit,
another treatment for PAH, beat expectations in a clinical
trial, raising hopes the firm has a viable successor to its main
product Tracleer, which makes up just under 90 percent of sales.
Actelion noted that an earlier study had already showed
selexipag produced a significant reduction in pulmonary vascular
resistance, a symptom of PAH.
It said the goal of the interim analysis was to decide
whether the study should be continued based on the primary
objective of demonstrating the benefits of the drug.
U.S. regulators are set to decide in October whether to
approve Opsumit. Actelion has also filed the drug for approval
in the European Union.
Actelion has cut costs over the past year and refocused its
research spending on its PAH drugs, with its pipeline in
immunomodulation and antibiotics a second focus.
Actelion posted stronger-than-expected sales in the first
quarter and said it may return to profit growth sooner than
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by David Cowell)