Actelion Pharmaceuticals' (ALIOY) shares led Zurich stocks higher Monday despite the company's admission that its potential blockbuster Opsumit drug failed to meet a key target in late-stage trials.
Opsumit, a follow-up to the Swiss biotech's Tracleer treatment for patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension, missed a Phase 3 trial goal, measured by a "six minute walk test", the company said Monday.
"Although the results point towards a benefit of treatment with macitentan, we do not see a significant treatment effect on the primary endpoint of exercise capacity as measured in the 6 minute walk test," Actelion said. "We need to fully analyze the data to understand what could have caused this phenomenon."
Actelion shares traded 3% higher in Zurich to change hands at Sfr 229 each by 11:10 GMT, rising to the top of the benchmark SMI leaderboard and extending their three month gain past 53%.
The company has reportedly reached a tentative agreement with Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Report earlier this month and and could be moving closer to a deal that could see a spin-off of Actelion's research and development assets into a new firm in which existing Actelion shareholders would be able to retain some ownership.
Johnson & Johnson and Allschwil, Switzerland-based Actelion announced on Dec. 21 that they have re-entered talks, a week after Johnson & Johnson said it had ended discussions with Actelion about a potential transaction.
Shares of Johnson & Johnson closed at $114.15 Friday, down 0.04% on the session and have fallen 1.22% since the Dec. 21 announcement.