Biotech firm



said it was discontinuing its clinical trials of a new psoriasis drug after it failed to meet efficacy endpoints in Phase 2 trials.

The company said the drug, ABX-IL8, designed to treat patients with moderate to severe psoriasis, was well tolerated by patients and had an excellent safety profile, but the drug failed to achieve statistically significant results over the use of a placebo.

In a press release, Abgenix said that because of the lack of commercial collaboration on the drug, it is less likely to meet its 2002 revenue targets, but the company reaffirmed its current guidance for an operating loss of $105 million to $120 million. Abgenix said the reduced expense of ABZ-IL8 clinical trials and cutbacks in new hiring will make up for any lost revenue.

Shares of Abgenix were plunging 15% to $12.80 in premarket trading on the news after closing at $15.11 Tuesday.