Lexicon Rises as Drug Limits Cancer Patients’ Diarrhea

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Lexicon Pharmaceuticals Inc. soared after reporting positive results in a late-stage trial treating a debilitating symptom for patients with a rare form of cancer.

Lexicon rose as much as 64 percent to $13.80, the biggest intraday increase in almost six years. The company said Monday that its drug reduced the frequency of bowel movements in a trial of 135 patients with carcinoid syndrome who weren’t getting adequate results from the standard treatment.

While patients can live with carcinoid syndrome for many years, they can suffer because the cancer tumors secrete hormones into the blood, sometimes including serotonin, which can lead to severe diarrhea. Lexicon’s drug, telotristat etiprate, attempts to reduce the amount of serotonin in the blood.

Patients who received the largest doses of the drug along with the standard treatment showed a 35 percent reduction in the average number of daily bowel movements in the 12th week of treatment, compared with 17 percent on a placebo.

Lexicon could charge $64,000 a year per patient for the drug, said Phil Nadeau, an analyst at Cowen & Co., in a research note. With only about 6,000 patients eligible for the medicine, insurers are likely to be flexible on what they’ll pay, Chief Executive Officer Lonnel Coats said in a phone interview.

With Lexicon’s drug, “you can go right at source of the problem, with serotonin overproduction coming out of the neuroendocrine tumor,” he said.

Full results of the trial, including safety data, will be available later at an unspecified scientific conference, Lexicon said. Patients who took a 500-milligram dose of telotristat etiprate were more likely to report gastrointestinal discomfort and effects on their mood than those on the 250-milligram dose.

Ipsen SA owns the right to sell the drug outside of the U.S. and Japan if approved.