What happened

Shares of Dermira (DERM), a dermatology-focused biopharmaceutical company, shot up in response to a potential competitor's clinical trial failure. The demise of AnaptysBio's (ANAB 0.61%) experimental eczema treatment has lifted Dermira's stock price 22.1% higher as of 1:55 p.m. on Friday.

So what

Dermira's first drug, Qbrexza, a treatment for excessive underarm sweating, doesn't look as if it will generate enough sales to cover the company's operating expenses. That puts a lot of pressure on an eczema candidate called lebrikizumab that Dermira licensed from Roche (RHHBY -0.50%) a couple of years ago.

Person with a stack of cash making it rain.

Image source: Getty Images.

Etokimab from AnaptysBio doesn't work the same way as lebrikizumab, but it was a potential competitor in an increasingly crowded market for eczema treatments.

Now what

Today's news of a clinical trial flop for etokimab pushes aside a potential competitor that was a long shot anyway. Dermira investors should probably stay focused on the successful launch of Dupixent, a treatment for eczema patients from Regeneron (REGN 0.79%).

Dupixent earned approval in 2017, and sales of the IL-4 inhibitor have already reached a $2.5 billion annualized run rate. Lebrikizumab also inhibits IL-4, but it has a much higher affinity for IL-13 than Dupixent. This difference appears more important than Roche probably imagined, but we still don't have enough data to confidently predict lebrikizumab can outperform Dupixent in the clinic or on the market.

In October, Dermira began a pair of phase 3 trials expected to enroll around 800 adults with moderate to severe eczema. The pivotal study is looking for a high percentage of patients that show minimal symptoms of eczema following 16 weeks of treatment with lebrikizumab. Positive results from this pivotal trial could send Dermira stock screaming higher in the first half of 2021.