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January 24, 2014
PTC's Latest Ataluren Woes
I wrote here about PTC Therapeutics and their drug candidate for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (ataluren, PTC124). Opinion has been divided, to put it mildly, about how it works and whether it works at all.
Well, the saga continues. The company is having a rough time with that program these days, though. PTC applied to the European Medicines Agency for conditional approval of ataluren, but that request has just been firmly rejected.
Ataluren failed both a Phase IIb study for DMD as well as a Phase III study for cystic fibrosis, yet the biotech went on to wrap one of 2013's hottest IPOs in the resurgent biotech field, grabbing $125 million from investors. And over the last month its stock price jumped 37%.
Peltz has argued for years now that even though ataluren hasn't produced statistically significant results in later stage studies, the improvements in walking distance warranted an approval. But the EMA has now formally said no, leaving the drug's fate to be decided by a late-stage study the biotech describes as "confirmatory."
Hey, they might be right in that description - the Phase III might confirm the Phase II results and show that the drug truly does not work. And it looks like the regulatory agencies are thinking the same way. . .
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