One of Arena's top drugs flops in a PhIIb study for IBS pain. But researchers tease out a possible path forward as CEO explores 'strategic options'
Four years ago, when Arena CEO Amit Munshi cut its ties to a troubled weight drug and doubled down on the pipeline, a cannabinoid receptor 2 agonist figured prominently in the biotech’s future. On Tuesday evening, however, Munshi’s high hopes for the drug took a nasty hit after it failed a Phase IIb study for patients with irritable bowel syndrome pain.
Put through a randomized pace with 273 patients, researchers said it flat failed the primary endpoint among the large group with abdominal pain. But they quickly went on to highlight subgroup data, always a tricky and controversial ploy, where they spotlighted a positive p value for patients with moderate to severe pain who received the high dose of the drug — one of 3 provided in the study.
“The CAPTIVATE study was the first study to examine a full agonist of CB2 in IBS pain. As a Phase II trial we were evaluating safety in this population as well as looking for an initial signal of efficacy,” said Paul D Streck, Arena’s CMO.
The biotech also noted no serious adverse events in the study, highlighting tolerability — which will be key if this drug has any future in the high dose form.
Munshi, though, raised questions about what kind of future that may be, though, as his prepared remark noted plans to “evaluate possible strategic options for olorinab” as they focused on their lead drug, etrasimod. And Arena’s stock slid 8% after the bell on Tuesday as investors did their own evaluations.