Johnson & Johnson Halts Development of Flu Treatment Candidate

Johnson & Johnson's Janssen division is halting development of pimodivir, a flu treatment candidate, after a six-year-effort.
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Johnson & Johnson's  (JNJ) - Get Report Janssen Pharmaceutical subsidiary discontinued development of pimodivir, an investigational antiviral treatment for influenza A infection. 

The company said it made the decision based on recent results from planned interim analyses of pimodivir in Phase III trials of hospitalized patients. 

The goal was "an innovative new treatment option for patients at risk of respiratory infections," but the data "show that pimodivir does not offer a benefit above the existing standard of care," said James Merson, global therapeutic area head for infectious diseases at Janssen Research & Development.

Johnson & Johnson has been developing the drug since at least 2014, when Janssen entered an exclusive license agreement with Vertex. The hope was that pimodivir would help treat flu patients who had developed resistance to existing antiviral drugs.

The company decided to discontinue the trial after consulting with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Last month, Johnson & Johnson said that it was acquiring Momenta Pharmaceuticals  (MNTA) - Get Report for $6.5 billion. The deal was expected to close in the second half of 2020.

The move is expected to bolster Johnson & Johnson's autoimmune treatments. 

Momenta will become part of J&J’s Janssen unit, the companies said, with Janssen acquiring Momenta’s pipeline of clinical assets. Janssen plans to retain Momenta's presence in Cambridge, Mass.

"This acquisition broadens Janssen's leadership in autoimmune diseases and provides us with a major catalyst for sustained growth," Jennifer Taubert, executive vice president and worldwide chairman for pharmaceuticals at J&J, said in a statement. 

"Autoantibody-driven diseases are often serious, and patients are underserved by current treatment options." 

J&J shares at last check were trading 1.4% higher at $153.67.