Clavis Pharma May Close or Be Taken Over After Failed Drug Trial

Clavis Pharma ASA (CLAVIS), a Norwegian biotech, is considering closing or selling itself to another company after its experimental leukemia treatment elacytarabine failed in a late-stage trial.

Clavis has a short-list of Scandinavian private companies that may be interested in taking it over and will approach them over the next few weeks, Chief Executive Officer Olav Helleboe said on a conference call today. All development work on elacytarabine has been suspended, the Oslo-based company said in a statement yesterday.

The study, which didn’t show a significant difference in survival rates between patients who received elacytarabine and those taking other treatments, follows similar results from a trial on a Clavis pancreatic cancer treatment in November. Both drugs were aimed at improving existing medicines by using Clavis’s own Lipid Vector Technology.

“We’ve taken two drugs all the way through development with lipid technology and both failed in the final big test,” Helleboe said. “That means it will be very difficult to justify putting huge investments in another product with the same technology.”

Clavis shares slumped to a record low in Oslo, falling as much as 90 percent to 0.67 krone. The stock traded 84 percent lower as of 11:22 a.m. in the Norwegian capital.

The company had 223 million kroner ($38.3 million) in cash at the end of last year and has a net cash position of about 130 million kroner after debt and other obligations, Helleboe said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Makiko Kitamura in London at mkitamura1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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