Stroke Drug Trial Halted

Shares of Forest Labs are lower on the news.
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Forest Laboratories

(FRX)

shares were lower Wednesday after the company said a clinical trial of a stroke drug had been halted temporarily.

The New York-based drugmaker said its partner,

Paion AG

of Germany, stopped recruiting new patients until some of the data could be analyzed. The drug in the trial is desmoteplase, a genetically engineered version of a protein found in the saliva of a vampire bat. The drug dissolves blood clots.

The trial was interrupted after an independent data-monitoring committee asked for additional information "in order to facilitate the evaluation of a potential safety signal." Forest said the committee didn't cite a specific issue.

Forest's stock dropped $1.57, or 3.2%, to $47.85.

Forest relies on licensing other companies' products, and the vampire-bat-drug delay is the

second setback this week. On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration rejected an application from Forest's partner

Replidyne

(RDYN)

for the antibiotic faropenem.

A key issue in testing stroke drugs is to determine how much bleeding can occur. Forest added that the independent committee said its request for data shouldn't be viewed as a comment about safety or efficacy.

Paion is testing desmoteplase for patients with acute ischemic stroke, which is caused by blood clots and accounts for most strokes. Forest said the drug has been "successfully tested" in two mid-stage clinical trials. It's now in the third, and final, phase of human trials before an application is sent to regulators.