Swiss Pneumonia Antibiotic Abandoned in Phase III

The Swiss biotech Polyphor has discontinued two phase III trials of its antibiotic for treating pneumonia after halting both trials due to safety concerns in May.

The two phase III trials were testing Polyphor’s intravenous antibiotic murepavadin in hospitalized patients with pneumonia. In May, Polyphor halted the two trials due to an unexpectedly high incidence of acute kidney injury in patients given the treatment. The company has now decided to abandon both trials rather than attempt to commercialize the formulation with this safety issue.

It was clear that the benefit to patients from the murepavadin formulation and the commercial potential would not have been sufficiently attractive to continue,” Giacomo Di Nepi, CEO of Polyphor, stated. “On the other hand, we still believe that the intravenous murepavadin formulation has potential.

The company has taken the program back to preclinical stages, investigating whether the safety problems with the antibiotic can be circumvented by changing the formulation. Polyphor expects that the return to phase III could take over two years. 

Polyphor’s stock on the SIX Swiss stock exchange has reacted poorly to the bad news, sinking by over 20% since the stock market opened yesterday.

In the meantime, Polyphor’s other programs continue unabated. These include an inhaled form of murepavadin, other antibiotics, and a drug that could make breast cancer more vulnerable to immunotherapy.


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