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Dropping Ocrelizumab Could Be Good For Biogen Idec's Cash Flow

This article was originally published in The Pink Sheet Daily

Executive Summary

The motion-picture-industry themed ocrelizumab RA program won't be taking home any awards with the FILM study on clinical hold and the SCRIPT trial halted after deaths from infection.

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Roche/Biogen Idec ocrelizumab axed in RA

In an unsurprising development, Roche and Biogen Idec said on May 19 that they are dropping development of the anti-CD20 antibody ocrelizumab in rheumatoid arthritis. The companies had already suspended development of ocrelizumab in RA due to a higher incidence of opportunistic infections, including fatalities, in the 800-patient SCRIPT trial in patients for whom anti-TNF drugs had stopped working (1"The Pink Sheet" DAILY, March 8, 2010). Another trial, FILM, had already been put on clinical hold in 2009 because of the concern. Ocrelizumab is still in a Phase II trial in relapsing multiple sclerosis, and the companies recently said they remain committed to this indication (2"The Pink Sheet," DAILY, March 23, 2010). However, Lazard analyst Joel Sendek said given the safety issues and availability of alternative treatments, its future in MS is also in doubt. "We believe BIIB and its collaborator may not opt to move forward into Phase III in MS unless the Phase II data are overwhelmingly positive," Sendek wrote in a May 19 note

Roche/Biogen Idec ocrelizumab axed in RA

In an unsurprising development, Roche and Biogen Idec said on May 19 that they are dropping development of the anti-CD20 antibody ocrelizumab in rheumatoid arthritis. The companies had already suspended development of ocrelizumab in RA due to a higher incidence of opportunistic infections, including fatalities, in the 800-patient SCRIPT trial in patients for whom anti-TNF drugs had stopped working (1"The Pink Sheet" DAILY, March 8, 2010). Another trial, FILM, had already been put on clinical hold in 2009 because of the concern. Ocrelizumab is still in a Phase II trial in relapsing multiple sclerosis, and the companies recently said they remain committed to this indication (2"The Pink Sheet," DAILY, March 23, 2010). However, Lazard analyst Joel Sendek said given the safety issues and availability of alternative treatments, its future in MS is also in doubt. "We believe BIIB and its collaborator may not opt to move forward into Phase III in MS unless the Phase II data are overwhelmingly positive," Sendek wrote in a May 19 note

Despite Ocrelizumab Infection Risk, Roche Sees Multiple Sclerosis Opportunity

Anti-CD20 molecule's future in RA was dashed by high infection risk, but Roche says the safety profile of ocrelizumab could be better in MS patients.

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