Circassia looks to higher doses to salvage ragweed drug after PhIIb miss

Circassia CEO Steve Harris

Circassia Pharmaceuticals' pipeline has suffered its first notable post-IPO setback. The British biotech's ragweed allergy drug failed to live up to expectations in a Phase IIb trial, prompting the company to dig deeper into the data in search of a path forward for the candidate.

First, the bad news. The drug, Ragweed-SPIRE, failed to generate statistically significant improvements in nasal and non-nasal symptoms across the 280 people with ragweed allergy who were enrolled in the study. Circassia's stock dipped 6% following the news, which is the first setback for the company's pipeline since it pulled off a record-busting $332 million IPO on the London Stock Exchange earlier this year. Circassia is now working to salvage something from the trial.

The company talked up a few promising avenues for further investigation when it broke the news to investors. All of the doses showed signs of efficacy, but the effect was most pronounced in the 70 patients who received the biggest blast of the drug. Circassia has previously trialled Ragweed-SPIRE at a higher dose and is considering returning to these levels in pursuit of a stronger response. The firm is also trying to pick apart the role an unexpectedly strong placebo response had on the outcome.

Circassia's ability to find an effective dose and clinical trial design for Ragweed-SPIRE is critical to the future of the drug, but is less important to the company as a whole. Peel Hunt analyst Paul Cuddon said Ragweed-SPIRE is a long shot compared to other drugs in Circassia's pipeline, Reuters reports, and accounts for just 6% of its risk-adjusted value. More is resting on the company's treatments for cat, house dust mite and grass allergies, all of which are in mid- to late-phase trials.

- read the release
- here's Reuterstake

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