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BMS drops antidepressant in phase IIb

Liafensine no better than Lilly’s Cymbalta

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) buildingBristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has halted development of an antidepressant that had reached phase IIb testing, according to the pharma company's clinical research organisation (CRO) partner.

The drug - called liafensine or BMS-820836 - is a triple reuptake inhibitor that was being tested in three phase II trials, according to CRO Albany Molecular Research Inc (AMRI).

AMRI said that BMS took the decision because BMS-820836 had failed to show it was any better than Lilly's serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) Cymbalta (duloxetine) - which will lose patent protection in the US next year - as well as the generic selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) escitalopram in patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD).

BMS-820836 was designed to modulate levels of three separate neurotransmitters - serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine - to answer the need for additional lines of antidepressant therapy for patients who do not respond to other drugs.

More than 50 per cent of patients with depression continue to have symptoms, or have symptoms return, while on their initially prescribed course of treatment. TRD is typically defined when at least two different antidepressants have failed to resolve symptoms.

While the news was a relatively minor disappointment for BMS, it had a dramatic impact on AMRI's shares which fell more than 20 per cent on the news, reflecting the importance of the contract for the CRO. AMRI had received over $15m from the agreement with BMS as of the end of 2012, and has been working with BMS since 2005.

AMRI's chief executive Thomas D'Ambra said the CRO expects to have "continued discussions with BMS regarding their plans for other development compounds and leads previously identified for potential development against TRD or other central nervous system indications".

He insisted that the decision to discontinue BMS-820836 "will have no impact on AMRI's financial guidance or forecasts, including, the company's financial guidance for the third quarter and full year 2013".

Article by
Phil Taylor

14th August 2013

From: Research

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