(Nov 17): Roche Holding AG has ended a partnership with Atea Pharmaceuticals Inc to jointly develop a COVID-19 antiviral pill, the Swiss drugmaker said on Tuesday, a month after the drug failed to help patients in a small study.
Boston-based Atea’s shares fell 11% to $10.08 in extended trading, set to add to the 72% slump this year.
Many companies are racing to develop an oral pill as it can be taken as an early at-home treatment to help prevent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, a promising new weapon in the fight against the pandemic.
Pills from Merck & Co Inc and Pfizer Inc are currently under U.S. Food & Drug Administration review after promising data.
Roche and Atea teamed up last year to develop the oral treatment called AT-527, with Atea receiving an upfront payment of $350 million.
However, the treatment did not show a clear reduction in viral load in the overall population of patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 in a mid-stage study in October.
Roche said on Tuesday it would focus on its other COVID-19 products including antibody cocktail Ronapreve, developed in partnership with Regeneron, and arthritis drug Actemra.
The rights and licenses to AT-527 will return to Atea after the partnership ends in February, and the company said it would continue to develop the treatment and expects data from a late-stage trial in the second half of 2022.
Atea said it had the financial resources to independently drive forward the late-stage trial. The company said it had cash and cash equivalents of $839.7 million, as of September end.
Source: Roche terminates partnership with Atea to develop Covid-19 pill | The Edge Markets