Anthera shares collapse on halt of Phase III cardio trial

Anthera Pharmaceuticals may be regretting that it went ahead with its IPO in 2010. After the market closed Friday, the biotech ($ANTH) reported that a late-stage study of its lead drug had to be halted after the independent monitoring board concluded that the hope of establishing efficacy was futile.

Once trading in Anthera's shares was suspended late Friday, the Twitterverse was rife with speculation about potential trouble with the trial, which tested varespladib as a guard against cardiovascular disease. The biotech launched the trial in June 2010, as it set out to recruit more than 6,000 high risk ACS patients. Once the news spread that the trial was being halted for futility, shares of the Hayward, CA-based biotech collapsed, losing 62% of their value in after-market trading in a matter of minutes.

"While the Data Safety Monitoring Board information we received today was both surprising and disappointing, our focus is on the best interests of patients and making sure all this information is communicated to appropriate medical and regulatory authorities as quickly as possible," said Anthera CEO Paul F. Truex. Investigators had hoped to show that varespladib could improve the health forecast for patients with cardiovascular disease by reducing inflammation. Now analysts are wondering what the future holds for Anthera after its shares were flattened.

"This is a very severe blow. Theoretically, they can do another Phase III program once they see what went wrong in this one. But, whether they'll have this opportunity is unknown," Wedbush Securities analyst Duane Nash told Reuters.

- here's the press release
- here's the story from Reuters

Special Report: Anthera Pharmaceuticals ($ANTH) - 10 Biotech IPOs of 2010