Bristol Pulls Diabetes Drug

Testing would take too long.
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Bristol-Myers Squibb

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said Thursday that it would stop work on an experimental diabetes drug, saying it would take too long to conduct more safety tests.

The decision didn't rattle investors, because the company had alerted them months ago that the drug, Pargluva,

was on the ropes. In fact, Bristol-Myers Squibb's stock was up 26 cents, or 1.1%, to $24.39 by late afternoon Thursday.

In October, Bristol-Myers Squibb said its conversations with the Food and Drug Administration indicated that Pargluva probably would need additional clinical trials to measure cardiovascular risk.

At the time, the company said the trials could take five years, and it said one option would be to cancel work on what once had been a promising product.

Since meeting with the FDA, company officials reviewed the compound and the regulatory requirements, looked at experimental products that belong to the same class and examined heart-safety results from a recent Pargluva test. "Based on these accumulated data, the company believes that a long-term trial is needed to achieve regulatory success," said a Thursday press release.

Bristol-Myers Squibb decided to pull the plug "based on this assessment, the company's commercial evaluation of other diabetes alternatives likely to be available in five years and consideration of competing development opportunities in the company's portfolio," the press release said.

The cancelling of Pargluva, known by the generic name muraglitazar, also adds to questions raised by other companies' failed research on drugs known as known as dual PPAR alpha/gamma agonists. PPAR is an acronym for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors.

Earlier this month,

AstraZeneca

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halted work on Galida. AstraZeneca said Galida probably wouldn't offer much improvement

over existing diabetes drugs.

Several other companies have discontinued work on this class of drugs, including Merck, which stopped development in 2003 after its compound produced rare, malignant tumors in mice. Merck had signed an agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb to help market Pargluva, but after Bristol-Myers Squibb issued its warning in October, Merck bowed out.