Roche dumps another partner as it focuses on Genentech

A day after ending a collaboration with Genmab on an antibody program, Roche pulled the partnership rug out from underneath Actelion, dropping out of their pact for ACT-128800, which has shown promise for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Analysts say that Switzerland's Actelion stands to gain more in the long run, but has to face a short-term drop in revenue without any milestone money coming from Roche. "One balances out the other in terms of balancing cash flows, but it does mean near-term earning estimates need to be reduced by roughly 5%," Bank Vontobel analyst Andrew Weiss told Dow Jones. And Olav Zilian, analyst with independent brokerage Helvea, says that Actelion now faces a hard test of its vow to become the 'Genentech of Europe.'

Actelion did its best to put a positive spin on the news, noting that Roche's decision was driven by its concentration on Genentech now that the big biotech is operating under the pharma company's wing. It added that ACT-128800--which is in a Phase IIb MS trial to test dosages--is also being moved into the clinic for psoriasis.

"I am convinced that Actelion's selective S1P1 receptor agonist, an oral and rapidly reversible immunotherapy - has the potential to improve therapy for patients," said CEO Jean-Paul Clozel. "Especially, I expect that our selective S1P1 receptor agonist could have a wider safety margin compared to other therapies currently available or in development, whether they are long-acting biological immunosuppressive or other oral approaches." 

- check out Actelion's release
- here's the report from Dow Jones