Vical Falls Most in 20 Years on Cancer Drug Trial Results

Vical Inc., the maker of experimental cancer drugs, fell the most in 20 years after saying its melanoma medicine failed to help patients in a clinical trial.

Shares of Vical plunged 57 percent to $1.53 at the close in New York, the biggest one-day drop since March 1993 when the San Diego-based company initially offered shares to the public. Vical said in a statement that it was ending studies of the drug, Allovectin, and would shift its focus toward infectious disease treatments.

Chief Executive Officer Vijay Samant said Allovectin failed to show “statistically significant improvement” in the study of 390 patients with metastatic melanoma. The company had cash and investments of $70 million as of June 30, enough to meet its needs through the end of next year, according to the statement.

“In the coming weeks, we will make the necessary changes to focus resources on our infectious disease vaccine programs and reduce expenses to conserve cash,” Samant said in the statement.

Vical shares had risen 23 percent this year through Aug. 9.

While the company is testing other drugs, it faces “a lack of confidence in Vical’s pipeline candidates and a frustration with the slow pace at which Vical’s DNA-based gene delivery platform has advanced,” Eric Schmidt, a Cowen & Co. analyst in New York, said today in a note to clients.

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