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BioLineRx plunges after ending schizophrenia study

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of BioLineRx Ltd. dropped more than 50 percent Wednesday after the company said it is ending a clinical trial of an experimental schizophrenia treatment.

THE SPARK: The company said an early analysis showed that BL-1020 was unlikely to meet its main goal in the study. The trial was designed to compare the drug to risperidone, or Risperdal. BioLineRx said it decided to end the trial based on that analysis.

THE BIG PICTURE: The Jerusalem-based company does not have any products on the market, and BL-1020 is its most advanced experimental drug. BioLineRx is also studying treatments for skin lesions, inflammatory bowel disease, blood cancers, and nerve pain.

The trial was designed to compare BL-1020 to risperidone over a course of six weeks. BioLineRx said BL-1020 didn't work any better than the older drug over that period, or over longer durations of 12 or 24 weeks. The company said there were some "positive trends in cognition," however. BioLineRx plans to analyze all the data from the trial as it decides what to do with BL-1020.

SHARE ACTION: BioLineRx's U.S.-traded stock fell $2.02, or 53 percent, to $1.79 in late trading and reached a low of $1.60. The company went public in July 2011, and its shares had traded as high as $6.87.