Zalicus slumps after ending Synavive development

Zalicus tumbles after ending development of rheumatoid arthritis drug on mixed study results

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Zalicus Inc. skidded Monday after the company said it is ending development of its rheumatoid arthritis drug Synavive.

THE SPARK: The Cambridge, Mass., company said Synavive met one of its goals in a midstage clinical trial, but failed to meet a second goal. Zalicus said Synavive was more effective than a placebo in treating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but the drug did not work better than one of its components by itself. As a result, it won't pursue further studies of Synavive and will focus on other drug candidates.

THE BIG PICTURE: The main ingredients of Synavive are prednisolone, a synthetic steroid that is used to fight inflammation and other conditions, and dipyramidamole, which reduces the risk of blood clots. Zalicus said Synavive did not have a significant clinical benefit for patients compared with prednisolone. Patients in the trial were also being treated with standard rheumatoid arthritis drugs like methotrexate.

Zalicus said it will focus on drugs including its nerve pain treatment Z160, which recently moved into mid-stage testing, and Z944, a potential pain drug. The company said it plans to start midstage trials of Z944 in the first half of 2013. The company also has development partnership with French drugmaker Sanofi and Novartis AG of Switzerland.

Zalicus' only approved product is Exalgo, a drug used to treat moderate to severe chronic pain. Exalgo is marketed by Covidien PLC.

SHARE ACTION: Zalicus stock lost 55 cents, or 39.7 percent, to 84 cents in afternoon trading. The shares reached an annual low of 72 cents in May and a high of $1.62 in June.

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