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Vectura to stop developing asthma treatment after late-stage failure

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(Reuters) – Vectura Group Plc <VEC.L> will stop developing its treatment for severe uncontrolled asthma, the British drugmaker said on Monday, after the drug-device combination failed to meet the main goal of a late-stage study.

The move will widen Vectura’s loss before tax by 40 million pounds in the current financial year.

Vectura’s VR475 treatment delivers asthma medication budesonide through its nebuliser inhaler. Study results showed that nebulised budesonide was not an appropriate treatment for patients with severe asthma alternative to biologic therapy, Vectura said.

“The study outcome is disappointing, however the (main study goal) in this difficult-to-treat patient population presented a high hurdle from the outset,” Tim Harrison, the study’s principal investigator, said in a statement.

Vectura has undergone a rocky period since buying rival SkyePharma for 441 million pounds in 2016, receiving lower than expected royalties and facing higher costs from the acquisition.

In March it reported a worse-than-expected full-year pre-tax loss of 102.2 million pounds.

The asthma inhaler-maker had moved from product development to partnered development of generic drugs for the U.S. market, allowing it to take money from higher-risk, early-stage projects to invest in “relatively lower risk” ones.

This year Vectura’s plans to launch the first U.S. generic copy of GSK’s <GSK.L> best-selling Advair inhaler, along with partner Hikma Pharmaceuticals <HIK.L>, were slowed down by delayed approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)

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