Teva stops testing its migraine drug as cluster headache treatment

(Reuters) - Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd said on Tuesday it would stop developing its migraine drug, Ajovy, for treating cluster headaches after the company found the treatment was unlikely to meet the main goal of a late-stage trial.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is seen during a news conference hold by its CEO, Kare Schultz, to discuss the company's 2019 outlooks in Tel Aviv, Israel February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The drug, known generically as fremanezumab, competes with rival treatments from Eli Lilly & Co and Amgen Inc.

Lilly in November received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “breakthrough” status for its migraine drug Emgality in treating episodic cluster headaches.

In a late-stage trial, three out of four patients treated with Lilly’s drug saw at least a 50 percent reduction in weekly cluster headaches.

Teva’s decision could be positive for Lilly’s drug in differentiating it from its rivals, BMO Capital Markets analyst Alex Arfaei said.

“Although the cluster headache market is much smaller than the migraine market, it is a high unmet need, and Lilly should be able to leverage its positive cluster headache data to differentiate Emgality,” Arfaei said.

Israel-based Teva, the world’s largest generic drugmaker, is counting on Ajovy and another drug, Austedo for Huntington’s, to help revive its fortunes after it was forced to restructure to tackle a debt crisis.

The drug was approved as a prevention for migraines in September.

The same drug is being tested in mid-stage trial as a treatment for post-traumatic headache as well.

Cluster headaches are rare and painful, occurring in clusters or cyclical patterns and are frequently confused with migraines.

Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel