Adolor Hammered on Drug Setback

Its treatment for the side effects of opioids fails to reach statistical significance.
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Shares of



evaporated Thursday after the company reported that a late-stage clinical test of an experimental gastrointestinal treatment failed to meet its goals.

The Exton, Pa., company's stock lost $7.30, or 45.1%, to $8.89 and earlier went as low as $8.63, establishing a new 52-week low. Shares of


(GSK) - Get Report

, Adolor's partner in developing the drug, slipped 2 cents to $46.44.

The test was a blow to Adolor because the drug, Entereg, is the company's lead product. Entereg is designed to block the side effects of opioids, like morphine, that are used to treat postoperative pain, as well as to treat the side effect of abdominal surgery. The surgical side effect, known as postoperative ileus, is characterized by pain, nausea, vomiting and constipation. It is "a major contributor to prolonged hospital stays," according to Adolor. There is no FDA-approved treatment for postoperative ileus.

Thursday's announcement represents the second big setback for Adolor and Entereg. In January, the company said another late-stage clinical trial failed to achieve its primary goal.

The latest trial failed to achieve statistical significance for Entereg patients vs. placebo patients in measuring gastrointestinal improvements after surgery. The test, involving 911 patients, was conducted in Europe, Australia and New Zealand by GlaxoSmithKline to support a marketing application now pending before the European Union. Adolor also has submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration, which is scheduled to rule on the drug in late April.