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Biogen, Genentech's Rituxan Fails New Study

The drug failed to benefit patients with lupus, according to new late-stage study data.

The drug Rituxan failed to benefit patients with lupus, according to negative results from a late-stage study announced Tuesday by the drug's partners,




Biogen Idec

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This is the second clinical setback for Rituxan in the last two weeks. On April 15, the companies announced that a late-stage study in primary progressive multiple sclerosis

also failed


In this most recent study, patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), commonly called lupus, failed to respond any better to Rituxan vs. placebo after one year of treatment, the companies said. None of the study's six secondary endpoints were successful, either.

A separate phase III study of Rituxan in patients with lupus nephritis, a different form of the disease, is ongoing.

Lupus has proven to be a stubborn disease to overcome, leaving in its wake a long list of clinical trial failures. With that said, most analysts did not include Rituxan-lupus revenue in their financial models for either Genentech or Biogen Idec.

However, lupus and multiple sclerosis were seen as long-term growth opportunities for Rituxan, so the recent study failures take a bite out of that prospect.

Genentech and Biogen Idec reported 2007 Rituxan sales of $2.29 billion in the U.S., primarily as a treatment for the blood cancer non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The drug is also approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Genentech shares were down 5.8% at $68.93 in early trading Tuesday. Biogen Idec was trading down 5% at $61.43.

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Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback;

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