Kindred dumps its dog eczema drug in another pipeline setback

Months removed from its last late-stage failure, animal health biotech Kindred Biosciences ($KIN) is pulling the plug on another pivotal trial, sending its shares into tailspin just a year after its IPO.

The San Francisco company is discontinuing a study on AtoKin, a histamine receptor antagonist designed to treat atopic dermatitis, or eczema, in dogs. The problem, according to CEO Richard Chin, is that rival Zoetis' ($ZTS) recently launched Apoquel "has substantially raised the bar for future atopic dermatitis products." Atokin, which Kindred expected to commercialize next year, is now unlikely to contend on the market, he said, so the company is nixing the program altogether.

Kindred CEO Richard Chin

"This will allow us to redirect resources to other programs, including advancing additional novel drugs and biologics into development," Chin said in a statement. "While discontinuing a program is always difficult, we believe that an important part of good drug development is discipline in managing the product portfolio and prioritization of drugs that will lead to maximal return on investment and deliver maximal benefit to our patients."

The news sent Kindred's shares down nearly 30% in premarket trading on Thursday, an echo of the biotech's last big pipeline failure. In August, Kindred revealed that CereKin, an interleukin-1 inhibitor designed to treat canine osteoarthritis, failed to beat out placebo in a registration trial, tanking the company's share value by about 30%. Kindred is now trading at nearly one-third the value of its late 2013 IPO.

But Chin believes Kindred's expansive pipeline of potential pet treatments can still provide shots on goal and value for investors. The company's most advanced asset is SentiKin, a postoperative pain treatment up for a 2015 filing, and Kindred is in the midst of clinical studies on small-molecule treatments for feline inappetence, horse fever and cat gastrointestinal disease. The company is also working through preclinical development on a host of biologics, including therapies for cancer and allergic, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

- read the statement