By Pallavi Ail and Esha Dey
Jan 29 (Reuters) - Anacor Pharmaceuticals' experimental drug
for treating fungal infection of the nails showed it can cure
the disease, but the results fell short of those from a
competing drug from Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.
Anacor shares fell 24 percent to $3.95 on the Nasdaq, their
lowest in almost one-and-a-half years, before recovering to
$4.17, but were still down 19 percent.
Anacor said on Tuesday that 6.5 percent patients treated
with its drug tavaborole experienced a complete cure, compared
with 0.5 percent of patients on a placebo.
Data released by Valeant in November showed that its drug
efinaconazole completely cured 17.8 percent of patients,
compared with 3.3 percent of those receiving a placebo.
"The degree of benefit fell short of our expectations, and
is below that which was recently achieved by Valeant's
efinaconazole," Cowen and Co analyst Eric Schmidt wrote in a
"While we view tavaborole as an FDA approvable therapeutic,
investors are likely to question its commercial potential."
Palo Alto, California-based Anacor, which has a market value
of about $184 million, has seven drugs in its pipeline.
Tavaborole is its most advanced clinical candidate.
Both Anacor and Valeant used the same trial goal of complete
cure - no trace of fungal infection and a clear nail.
"We are intrigued by the fact that (Anacor) had nearly 90
percent sterilization of the nail but the completely clear nail
growth that people focused some attention on is a little bit
less than what a potential competitor, Valeant, has published,"
Wedbush Securities analyst Gregory Wade said.
However, Cowen's Schmidt said the difference between the
"almost cured" and "cured" rates, as compared with Valeant's
numbers, may be explained by Valeant's trial having enrolled a
Anacor's Study 301 was the first of two late-stage trials on
tavaborole conducted in the United States and Mexico, and
enrolled 594 patients.
The fungal infection, named onychomycosis, affects about 35
million people in the United States and causes nails to deform,
discolor, thicken, become brittle and split and separate from
the nail bed, Anacor said.
Tavaborole was safe and well-tolerated across study subjects
and there were no serious adverse events related to the drug,
the company said in a statement.
Results from the second late-stage trial, held in the United
States and Canada, are expected in March.
Anacor plans to file for regulatory approval in mid-2013 in
the United States.
The company experienced a setback last October when its
partner, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, stopped the development of a drug
aimed to treat urinary tract and intra-abdominal infections.
The drug, named GSK2251052, was in mid-stage trials. [
Separately, Anacor is suing Valeant for damages of at least
$215 million for breach of contract relating to certain
development services provided by Valeant's subsidiary, Dow
Pharmaceuticals, for tavaborole.
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