Roche drops hep B antiviral as late-stage pipeline tests 'largely on track' despite COVID-19 disruption


Roche has canned a phase 1 test of a potential hepatitis B antiviral as part of its third-quarter clean-up of unwanted pipeline drugs.

In its second-quarter/half-year financials posted Thursday morning, Roche said simply that the drug, RG6217, had been “removed” from phase 1, which in pharma parlance means culled.

It had been in an early clinical trial since late 2018, according to, in both healthy volunteers and those with hep B. Roche did not make public the reason for its axing.

The Swiss major also confirmed it had swept out two other duds: FDA breakthrough-tagged autism hopeful balovaptan (RG7314) and idasanutlin (RG7388), an investigational MDM2 inhibitor being tested for relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia in phase 3.

The company confirmed their removal from its pipeline after noting they were on the chopping block back in the first quarter.

Roche booked just a 1% rise in sales for the first half of the year, given what it called a “significant impact” from COVID-19. It said in its financial report (PDF) that while the virus had affected some of its trial work, “filings, pivotal phase 3 trial readouts and pivotal trial starts are largely on track.”

It’s also working on “several new compounds” for their potential against COVID-19 as well as six other approved meds it thinks could help against the disease.

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