Biohaven’s high-risk follow-on stumbles again
The launch of Biohaven’s acute migraine treatment Nurtec ODT is investors’ primary focus at the moment, but the company’s R&D work should not be overlooked. Substantial investment is being directed at the glutamate modulator troriluzole, which disappointed in a third trial yesterday, in obsessive compulsive disorder. A phase III generalised anxiety disorder study failed back in February, as did a mid-stage trial in spinocerebellar ataxia in 2017. As it did in SCA, Biohaven still plans to push into phase III in OCD: although improvement on the Y-BOCS scale failed to deviate significantly from placebo at week 12, the primary endpoint, consistent improvements were seen over all time points. A robust pivotal trial can thus be designed, the company insists. This is a bold decision for a project with such a mixed record; a high-risk/high-reward Alzheimer’s trial is also ongoing. Biohaven stock is trading a record highs, lifted by strong initial demand for Nurtec ODT, but at the same time 20% of the stock is sold short. It is easy to see why: Nurtec ODT launch costs and R&D bills mean that the company is chewing through cash, and troriluzole is a risky follow-on act.
|Troriluzole clinical programme|
|Spinocerebellar ataxia||Still recruiting, primary completion Oct 2020.||NCT03701399|
|Generalized anxiety disorder||Missed primary endpoint||NCT03829241|
|Obsessive compulsive disorder||Missed primary endpoint||NCT03299166|
|Alzheimer's disease||Passed planned futility analysis Dec 2019; topline results due Dec 2020||NCT03605667|
|Source: EvaluatePharma, company statements.|