GlaxoSmithKline hits the brakes on an anti-inflammatory drug from Galapagos

Galapagos NV's collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has hit a roadblock. Late last week the Belgian biotech reported that its Big Pharma partner had hit the brakes on a Phase II study of GSK2586184 for lupus after a first look at the data failed to demonstrate a positive effect. And an exploratory Phase I/II of the same drug for ulcerative colitis was put on hold as investigators review the program.

That leaves the drug in a Phase II trial for psoriasis, which just wrapped dosing, with topline results due out within a few months. GSK2586184 is a JAK1 inhibitor and the biotech has touted the drug as a new approach to treating inflammatory diseases. Incyte, meanwhile, is working on the oral drug baricitinib, a late-stage JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor for rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diseases which is partnered with Eli Lilly ($LLY).

Galapagos didn't have much to say about the setback. But the decision to stop the Phase II study does underscore GlaxoSmithKline's willingness to call it quits when a drug isn't performing as expected in the clinic. Late last year the pharma giant quickly slammed the door shut on its ambitious late-stage effort on ChemoCentryx's ($CCXI) lead drug vercirnon, winding up a $1.5 billion pact and returning rights to another drug after the first Phase III study in the deal flopped.

Galapagos's relationship with GlaxoSmithKline dates back 7 years, when the pharma giant signed a discovery and development deal with more than $300 million in milestones built into it. A year ago Galapagos said that GSK was launching mid-stage studies of GSK2586184, putting it in line for 34 million euros in milestones.

Galapagos has a wide range of development partnerships with Big Pharma companies, including deals with AbbVie ($ABBV) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ). Last spring, though, Roche ($RHHBY) bowed out of its pact to find new drugs for fibrosis and three years ago Merck ($MRK) exited its collaboration as well.

- here's the release