Shares in GlaxoSmithKline Plc (LON:GSK) have taken a hit this morning after the company said that a clinical trial for its respiratory treatment Breo, co-developed with Theravance Inc (NASDAQ:THRX), had failed to prolong life of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also known as ‘smokers’ cough’. The disappointing trial results have dashed hopes of higher sales for the product.
As of 09:42 BST, GSK’s share price had fallen 1.10 percent to 1,314.38p, significantly underperforming the benchmark FTSE 100 index which currently stands 1.68 percent higher at 6,249.15 points. The pharmco’s shares have lost some eight percent of their value over the past year.
GSK and Theravance last night announced the initial results from their SUMMIT study which showed that Breo, also known as Relvar, lowered risk of dying by 12.2 percent in COPD patients, compared with placebo. The difference, however, is considered too small to be statistically significant. The study, which included almost 16,500 people from 43 countries, had specifically enrolled patients with heart problems since about half of the people diagnosed with COPD are at heightened risk of cardiovascular disease.
Ronny Gal, analyst at Bernstein, told the Financial Times that the trial failure was “surprising and disappointing” given the “massive effort” that GSK had put behind it. He added that it was now more of a stretch for the company to meet his forecast for peak Breo sales of $1.6 billion (£1 billion) in 2020. The drug, which is approved for COPD and asthma in the US and Europe, is one of the products GSK is counting on to replace its flagship drug Advair whose sales are falling on account of competition from cheaper generics.
The FT also quoted Andrew Baum, analyst at Citigroup, as saying that he expected the UK drugmaker to refocus Breo against asthma and concentrate on another new drug, Anoro, as a treatment for COPD.