EuroBiotech Report: AstraZeneca, Helsinn VC, Medivir cuts, NeuroVive and Newron


Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. We start this week with a pair of midphase trial missteps and their impact on two biotechs. AstraZeneca was the first to deliver bad news. The Big Pharma halted a Phase II trial of an asthma drug, leading to a 40% drop in the share price of its partner, Synairgen. NeuroVive Pharmaceutical, the biotech behind our second midphase blowup, suffered even more. Investors wiped 50% off its share price for the second time in 18 months after its drug came up short in an acute kidney injury trial. Fellow Swedish drug developer Medivir responded to its own difficulties by retreating from early-stage research and infectious diseases, putting 30 people out of a job. Helsinn set up a $50 million (€45 million) cancer-focused VC fund. Newron Pharmaceuticals raised CHF 26.1 million to fund its Phase IIa schizophrenia trial. And more. Nick Taylor

1. AstraZeneca pulls plug on PhII asthma trial at interim analysis, sinking Synairgen’s stock

AstraZeneca ($AZN) has halted a Phase IIa trial of the severe asthma drug it licensed from Synairgen (LON:SNG). The Big Pharma took action after an interim analysis raised doubts about whether the study could deliver meaningful data against its primary endpoint, throwing the future of the program into question and wiping 40% off Synairgen’s share price.

2. NeuroVive scraps kidney injury program after PhII miss, wiping 50% off its stock price

NeuroVive Pharmaceutical (STO:NVP) has terminated development of its cyclosporine formulation in acute kidney injury (AKI) after the drug failed to move the needle in a Phase II trial. Investors reacted badly to the news, wiping 50% off the value of NeuroVive for the second time in the past 18 months.

3. Medivir retreats from infectious diseases, cuts 30 jobs to focus on oncology

Medivir (STO:MVIR-B) is taking the ax to its R&D team, putting 30 people out of work and narrowing its drug development focus on oncology. The reorganization represents a retreat from early-stage research and infectious diseases, areas Medivir is willing to back away from to save SEK 110 million ($12.5 million) a year.

4. Helsinn creates $50M VC fund to back early-stage cancer companies

Helsinn is getting into the venture capital game. The cancer supportive care specialist has put up $50 million (€45 million) to place 10 to 15 bets on early-stage companies in the U.S., parts of Europe and Israel.

5. Newron raises CHF26M to wrap up PhII schizophrenia trial, late-phase CNS study

Newron Pharmaceuticals (SWX:NWRN) has tapped investors for CHF 26.1 million ($26.6 million) to see it through to data readouts on a couple of key pipeline programs. The funding extends Newron’s financial runway out beyond the completion of a Phase IIa schizophrenia trial and Phase II/III orphan CNS disease study.

And more articles of note>>