Gilead dumps late-stage colitis program after failing to find benefit

Gilead ($GILD) said in a brief update that it will be canning its combined Phase II/III test of its experimental GI med GS-5745 after finding that there was “insufficient evidence of a treatment benefit” in those taking the drug.

The med, an anti-MMP9 antibody, was being used to treat patients with active ulcerative colitis, but failed to make the grade.

But the drug will live on in its ongoing Phase III test in patients with gastric cancer, as well as a midstage combo study with Bristol-Myers ($BMY) checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo (nivolumab).

It is also not cutting its GI hopes completely with the med, as a Phase II in moderately to severely active Crohn's disease is still going ahead--as well as other tests in rheumatoid arthritis and cystic fibrosis. “These studies will continue as planned,” Gilead said.

The California company fell by 0.10% at the end of yesterday, but was up by the same amount premarket this morning.

The $111 billion market cap Big Biotech has been at the center of increasing speculation that it will make a big buy with its cash pile from its major blockbuster hep C sales over the past few years--but a big deal has yet to materialize.

Rumors have also started this week that the highly acquisitive Allergan ($AGN) may be looking to buy Gilead, although Allergan’s current market cap is around $16 billion less that its alleged target.

It’s not the first time Gilead has run into trial trouble. Earlier this year it halted 6 trials of its oncology med Zydelig (idelalisib) for first-line use in blood cancers after reports of serious side effects--including multiple deaths--among participants in several of the studies.