* Co says drug generally safe and well tolerated
* Plans to start talks with potential partners
* Shares down as much as 14 pct
(Recasts, adds details, analyst comments, updates stock
Dec 14 Lexicon Pharmaceuticals Inc's (LXRX.O)
experimental arthritis drug failed to show a significant
improvement in a mid-stage trial, sending its shares down as
much as 14 percent.
Results from the 12-week study showed patients treated with
70 mg or 110 mg of the drug LX2931 had a response rate of 44
percent and 41 percent, respectively, compared to 49 percent
for those treated with a dummy drug.
J.P Morgan analyst Cory Kasimov said the trial's failure
could be because of the low dose of the drug and an unusually
high placebo response.
"While we were disappointed by the unusually high placebo
effect in this trial, we are encouraged by the excellent
overall safety profile observed in the first test of this new
mechanism of action in patients with rheumatoid arthritis,"
Chief Executive Arthur Sands said in a statement.
However, at a higher dose of 150 mg, the drug improved the
scores of a standard measure ACR 20, which indicates the
severity of the disease, with a response rate of 60 percent.
Mild-to-moderate adverse events were seen for all three
dose groups, with frequencies similar to the dummy drug.
The company said it plans to start discussions with
potential partners for further development of the drug.
"Further study of LX2931 may well involve higher doses of
the drug given the relatively benign safety profile observed to
date. However, we continue to be skeptical of this program's
future, absent the deep pockets of a partner," analyst Kasimov
said in a note.
Current rheumatoid arthritis drugs in the market include
Humira from Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N) and Amgen Inc's
Woodlands, Texas-based Lexicon's shares, which have risen
31 percent in the last six months, were trading down 9 percent
at $1.50 on Tuesday on Nasdaq. They touched a low of $1.42
earlier in the session.
(Reporting by Shravya Jain and Krishnakali Sengupta in
Bangalore; Editing by S. John Tilak, Roshni Menon)