Akzo Might Delay Drug Filing

The company's shares fall on the news.
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Shares of the Dutch drug and chemical conglomerate

Akzo Nobel

(AKZOY)

sank Wednesday after the company said it may delay seeking U.S. approval for a schizophrenia drug.

However, the news didn't affect shares of

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

, which has been working on the drug asenapine with Akzo Nobel since 2003. By early afternoon, Pfizer was up 22 cents to $27.94, but the Dutch company's stock was down $5.36, or 9%, to $54.17 on trading that was seven times greater than the average daily volume for the past three months.

"For the schizophrenia trial program to date, results are mixed," Akzo Nobel said. "This may have a delaying effect on the earlier communicated filing date for asenapine, previously expected for early 2007." The company also is seeking asenapine's clearance as a treatment for acute mania associated with a type of bipolar disorder.

Akzo Nobel will submit some data from its final late-stage clinical trial on schizophrenia to the Food and Drug Administration in a few weeks. The complete reports will be sent by year-end.

According to the asenapine agreement signed in October 2003, Pfizer paid $100 million up front. Pfizer will pay up to $270 million contingent on the drug being approved in the U.S., Japan and Europe and certain sales targets being met. The two companies are collaborating on clinical development and manufacturing, and they will co-promote asenapine in the U.S., European Union, Japan and other markets.

Akzo Nobel also said that the possible delay won't affect the effort to spin off its drug division, Organon BioSciences, as a separate company. Akzo Nobel announced the spin-off in February. Organon is best known for its contraception, hormone therapy and fertility products.

The actual spin-off depends on "market conditions, as well as on developments at Organon BioSciences, including its product pipeline," the company said last month. Akzo Nobel plans to divest 20% to 30% of the drug division's shares in a public offering and then the remaining shares in two to three years.