September 4, 2008

New York-Based Forest Hits 7-Year Low on Trial Results

Shares of Forest Laboratories Inc. fell to a seven-year low Wednesday following disappointing results from two late-stage trials of Forest's drug candidate aclidinium bromide.

In both trials, the drug met its primary goal of improving lung function for patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. But in each trial, the drug missed one of its secondary goals. Forest said aclidinium bromide was not as effective as it had been in other tests, and analysts suggested a rival drug may be more effective.

Forest shares lost $5.40, or 14.9 percent, to $30.87 in afternoon trading. They fell as far as $29.81, their lowest price since May 2001.

"The magnitude of aclidinium's bronchodilatory effect was somewhat disappointing, and appears to be below that of Pfizer's Spiriva, which could be a competitive hurdle," said Cowen and Co. analyst Ian Sanderson. Spiriva is marketed by Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim as a treatment for asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease. It can be inhaled or taken as a capsule.

Forest is developing aclidinium bromide with Laboratorios Almirall SA of Spain.

Sanderson downgraded shares of the New York-based company to "Neutral" from "Outperform," saying Forest shares should trade in a narrow range into early 2009.

In the ACCLAIM/COPD trials, patients were dosed with inhaled aclidinium bromide or a placebo once per day. Patients who took the drug experienced greater dilation of the bronchial tubes in the lungs, and that improvement lasted over a year of treatment. Measurements were taken at 12 weeks and 28 weeks, and patients who took the drug showed a statistically significant improvement compared with placebo at both points.

Forest and Almirall said it is working to understand the test results and evaluate the most beneficial doses of aclidinium bromide.

The drug also missed a secondary goal in both trials. In one, the improvement after a year was not significant, and in the second trial, aclidinium bromide did not significantly delay an onset of severe symptoms.

Pfizer shares were unchanged at $19.17.

Originally published by LIBN Staff.

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