The Swiss pharma giant Roche (OTCMKTS:RHHBY) has canceled two Phase 2 COVID-19 studies while looking to identify a new site to conduct a clinical study for the oral antiviral AT-527, which it is developing with Atea Pharmaceuticals (NSDQ:AVIR.O). The two companies were looking to launch a trial in the U.K., but falling COVID-19 cases there have complicated recruitment.
“There’s just simply not enough patients to enroll with the speed we were hoping for,” said Bill Anderson, head of Roche’s pharmaceutical division, in a conference call.
Roche and Atea hoped AT-527 would offer a more convenient alternative to intravenous treatments such as antibody cocktails or Gilead Science’s (NSDQ:GILD) remdesivir.
One of the two canceled Phase 2 studies was for the monoclonal antibody astegolimab (RG6149), which the company had licensed from Amgen (NSDQ:AMGN).
The other Phase 2 trial Roche halted related to RG7880 (efmarodocokin alfa), which the company hoped could help manage COVID-19-induced pneumonia.
The company has had more luck with the antibody cocktail casirivimab/imdevimab, which it is developing jointly with Regeneron.
A recent Phase 3 trial showed the cocktail cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 70% for non-hospitalized patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
Unlike AT-527, however, casirivimab and imdevimab must be administered intravenously.
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