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Actellion shares dive as heart drug misses target

Actelion's chief executive Jean-Paul Clozel Keystone

Shares in Swiss biotechnology group Actellion lost 62 per cent of their value, in Friday trading on the Swiss stock exchange. The loss came after the group said it had run into problems in the trial phase of a key heart failure drug.

Actellion stocks fell from SFr580 to SFr220 in the course of the day’s trading.

Actellion and US-based Genentech have reported that a Phase III trial of a drug used to treat symptoms of heart failure, Veletri, showed it did not meet the primary treatment objectives.

The results from the second phase of the critical Phase III showed that Veltri “didn’t meet its primary objective of significantly improving symptoms” of dyspnea – or shortness of breath – associated with acute heart failure, the companies said in a joint statement.

The results contrasted with those of an earlier trial which showed significant improvements in blood flow and dyspnea.

Actellion spokesman Roland Haefeli called the latest results “puzzling”, given they seemed to contradict the findings of the earlier trial.

He said it would likely mean a delay in bringing Veltri to market. Analysts had been hoping for a commercial product launch by the end of 2002.

swissinfo with agencies

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