It probably cost Pfizer
Bristol said yesterday that it was discontinuing development of hepatitis C treatment BMS-986094, which Inhibitex called INX-189. The pharma previously announced that it was putting the drug on hold because a patient in one of the trials suffered heart failure.
Turns out the safety signal was much more serious than that. The patient subsequently died and another eight patients have been admitted to the hospital for unexpected events including heart and kidney toxicity. Two patients remain in the hospital.
There's no way to come back from a track record like that; cutting its losses and moving on is the only option at this point. Bristol will take a $1.8 billion charge related to the failed drug.
The news puts poor Idenix Pharmaceuticals
IDX184 isn't dead yet, but proving that it doesn't have the same side effects as BMS-986094 won't be easy. And even if preclinical experiments convince the FDA to let Idenix restart trials in humans, the agency may require the company to restart slowly to limit the number of patients exposed.
Bristol still has other hepatitis C drugs, including daclatasvir, but with hepatitis C treatment moving toward cocktails, Bristol needs to find a new drug to combine daclatasvir with. Gilead Sciences
Rather than buying a drug, maybe Bristol should sell its hepatitis C drugs. Of course then it risks getting on the list of epic failures for letting a blockbuster get away.