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Alkermes Halts Development of Opioid Constipation Drug

Alkermes Plc, a maker of drugs for addiction and mental illness, said it would end work on a medicine to treat constipation caused by opioids such as morphine after study results fell short of company expectations.

Alkermes fell 1.9 percent to $15.75 in late U.S. trading at 4:06 p.m. New York time.

The drug, called ALKS 37, “did not satisfy our pre-specified criteria for advancing into phase 3 clinical trials,” the Dublin-based company said in a statement today.

The medicine was “generally well tolerated” by about 150 patients participating in a phase 2 trial and eased constipation “compared to baseline,” the company said. Alkermes said it may try to license the compound to another company and focus research and development on more promising drugs.

“We will continue to maintain a disciplined approach to R&D and focus our resources on clinical candidates that show the most promise,” Elliot Ehrich, the company’s chief medical officer, said in the statement.

Other drugs Alkermes is working on include compounds aimed at treating schizophrenia and depression. The company’s U.S. products include Vivitrol, a once-a-month injection to treat alcoholism, and Risperdal Consta, a drug for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

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