R&D

Once the center of a public storm of anger over denied drug, Chimerix now can’t even recruit patients for their trials

Five years after Chimerix found itself at the center of a hurricane of public anger over its initial refusal to provide their lead experimental drug to a dying child, the biotech says now that they can’t even recruit patients for their studies. 

Michelle Berrey

That’s forcing them to scrap all their late-stage clinical development work on the drug — the oral antiviral brincidofovir — and lay off half the remaining staff at the Durham, NC-based biotech.

It’s been all downhill for Chimerix over the past three-plus years, as a series of trial failures forced a shift of focus to cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease in kidney transplant patients. Michelle Berrey, who took the helm after Ken Moch exited in 2014, left in February. 

Ken Moch

New CEO Mike Sherman — the ex-Endocyte CEO who came on board just a few weeks ago — was left to tout the results of animal studies for the drug as a guard against smallpox, which he says could set up an approval pathway under FDA rules.

Mike Sherman

Their stock $CMRX, which once traded over $50 a share, closed Wednesday at $2.67, giving them a market cap of only $136 million.

It was a much different story in 2014 as Chimerix championed this drug as a game-changing antiviral. That triggered a compassionate use demand from the parents of Josh Hardy, who said the therapy was their only hope in keeping the boy alive.

Our son will die without this drug,” said Todd Hardy, the boy’s father. “We’re begging them to give it to us.”

When Moch said there was no way Chimerix would provide the drug under compassionate use, the resulting outpouring of public anger through social media channels prompted a retreat.

No one is begging for brincidofovir today.


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