Unfortunately, it won't come from the biotech's rheumatoid arthritis drug CH-4051. Chelsea said the drug failed a phase 2 trial today.
CH-4051 was being tested in patients that failed to adequately respond to methotrexate, a generic that's typically the first line of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. The control arm got methotrexate again, but the drug was able to elicit at least a 20% improvement in symptoms, called an ACR20, in 56% of the patients.
In theory, the response shouldn't be that high, but the result isn't that surprising. Rheumatoid arthritis trials are notorious for having high placebo effect because the symptoms are reported by the patients. Taking something, anything, can make patients feel better. Lexicon Pharmaceuticals
Chelsea said the response in the methotrexate-treated group "confounded" the analysis, which I would agree with, but the drug still doesn't look like it's working. The best ACR20 score was only 45.8%, and there doesn't seem to be any type of dose response. The 3-mg dose produced a lower ACR20 than the 0.3-mg and the 1-mg doses.
Chelsea is making the right decision abandoning CH-4051 to focus on Northera. The data just doesn't look that good and the oral rheumatoid arthritis market looks like it's going to get really crowded with Pfizer's
Back to waiting.
Health care investors are always looking for the next big breakthrough. Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner recently identified a small-cap health care company that he believes is poised for monster returns. To uncover this top pick today, enjoy the special free report: "Discover the Next Rule-Breaking Multibagger." Don't miss out on this limited-time offer and your opportunity to discover this game-changing company before the market does. Click here to access your report -- it's totally free.
Fool contributor Brian Orelli holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Pfizer. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.