Just months after the EMA rejected its therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Swiss company Santhera reports negative data for its multiple sclerosis drug.
Santhera Pharmaceuticals has reported this morning that a first clinical trial in patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) failed to prove the company’s drug to have any effect on the progression of the disease. The Phase I/II trial, funded by the US National Institute of Health (NIH), compared the effects of Santhera’s drug to a placebo in 66 patients with multiple sclerosis over a period of 2 years.
The drug in question, called idebenone, is already used by doctors to treat blindness caused by a rare disease called Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON). And it turns out it is no the first time the company tries to apply the drug to a completely different indication without much success. Last September, the EMA rejected the extension of the use of idebenone to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy, triggering a massive 45% drop in Santhera’s stock, which has not been in particularly good shape for the last year.
Digging a bit deeper, I found out that the drug was originally developed by Takeda as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. After it failed to be approved, it was passed on to Santhera, which also failed to prove its efficacy in the neurological disease Friedrich’s ataxia. Perhaps it’s time for the company to move on to other drugs with more potential.
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