GlaxoSmithKline backs off from Galapagos' anti-inflammatory hopeful

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has again scaled back its expectations for an anti-inflammatory treatment licensed from Galapagos, calling off any plans for late-stage study after a few Phase II miscues dulled its potential.

The drug, GSK2586184, is a JAK1 inhibitor developed under a long-running partnership between the two companies, designed to treat lupus, ulcerative colitis and psoriasis. GSK is pulling the plug on the whole anti-inflammatory project, saying the treatment's overall risk-benefit profile left it wanting after GSK2586184 performed poorly on a drug-interaction study with statins.

The drug's future began to cloud earlier this year when GSK revealed that it halted a Phase II study in lupus due to futility and placed a clinical hold on another trial in ulcerative colitis. In April, GSK2586184 came through in the first of two mid-stage studies on psoriasis, but the success was apparently not enough to sway GSK.

The Big Pharma still retains the rights to the drug, however, and it's leaving the door open for further study, telling Galapagos that "other potential indications are presently being explored."

For Galapagos, the move imperils a partnership that once promised to pay out more than $300 million in milestones, but the Belgian drugmaker believes its wide pipeline will provide enough shots on goal to make up for any setback.

The company is expecting Phase II on the AbbVie ($ABBV)-partnered rheumatoid arthritis treatment GLPG0634 early next year, setting it up for $250 million in potential payments. The biotech is also moving forward with the Servier-aligned GLPG1972 for osteoarthritis, a pulmonary disease drug co-developed with Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and a proprietary MRSA treatment called GLPG1492.

Galapagos is planning to accelerate its R&D spending in the second half of the year, applying the proceeds from last quarter's $179 million sale of its service business to CRO Charles River Laboratories ($CRL).

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