Progenics' Mixed Trial Data

Progenics Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: PGNX  ) and marketing partner Wyeth (NYSE: WYE  ) released both positive and negative clinical trial data on Thursday. Both of these were for their recently approved opioid-induced constipation (OIC) drug, Relistor. From the almost 10% jump in Progenics stock Thursday, you can guess that investors felt the good clearly outweighed the bad.

Let's get the bad news out of the way: The intravenous form of the drug was ineffective in treating postoperative ileus (POI), a constipation-like condition that occurs after abdominal surgery. That's disappointing, but not a big surprise after a similar phase 3 trial in March concluded the same thing. It looks like Adolor (Nasdaq: ADLR  ) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK  ) , whose POI drug Entereg was approved by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this week, will have that market to themselves.

The good news is that, according to a phase 2 trial, the oral version of the drug appears to work for OIC, a constipation condition caused by taking high doses of non-opioid painkillers. That's good news because no one likes receiving shots, and right now an injection is the single approved delivery system. The market for that is likely to be limited to patients in nursing homes, a relatively small market.

However, the two companies could sell a lot more of the drug if they can get the oral version approved for patients taking painkillers for chronic pain. These types of patients, suffering from OIC, were tested in the phase 2 trial.

No word yet on when a phase 3 trial for the oral version will begin. Results from another phase 2 trial testing oral Relistor for OIC are expected in the next few months, so we presume the companies are waiting until then before designing the phase 3 trial.

In the meantime, Wyeth is planning on launching injectable Relistor in a few weeks. Investors won't have to wait too much longer to get a first look at how much money Progenics' first drug might bring in to support its research and development program.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Glaxo is a selection of the Income Investor newsletter. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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