Clinical Merck partner NGM biopharmaceuticals' eye drug unsuccessful in Phase...

Merck partner NGM biopharmaceuticals’ eye drug unsuccessful in Phase 2 clinical trials


NGM biopharma developed an experimental medication for eye diseases that failed the phase 2 testing, leading to an all-time low share price for the company. The drug did not show any significant signs of improvement in the sample size set of patients with geographic atrophy disease.

A phase 2 trial was conducted in which patients who received the dose of the medication known as NGM 621, once a month for a year had a 6.4% reduction in the growth of retinal lesions in their eyes. When the dosage was reduced to once in two months, the growth rate of the disease was reduced by 6.5%. The company did not find this as a suitable result of the medication as per their statement released earlier.

Although the results were not favorable, the positives of the medication, as per the company, were that it does not have any major side effects followed by low chances of choroidal neovascularization among therapy-receiving patients. During a conference meeting, the senior officials of the company pointed out that the results of the medication were improved if the high-risk patients were removed from the sample set. Although this is an extensive analysis by the company, the future of the program is still uncertain.

The CFO of NGM Pharmaceuticals Siobhan stated that the company will have to look for a new licensing partner if Merck decides not to licence their product.

The share price of NGM dropped by 75% to $3 as per their recent trade although the price at the time of IPO in 2019 was $16.

In this condition, there can be a complete loss of sight as the central vision-producing fluid of the eye is severely affected. People who are older tend to get this disease with the passage of time. The condition is characterised by patchy eye lesions that are caused by dying retinal cells.

As per the latest reports, FDA is in the process of evaluating two medications produced by Iveric Biopharmaceutical and Apellis for the said disease. These injections have proved to be successful in reducing the size of lesions during the clinical trials but no surety has been given on the retention of eyesight. There is a high chance of Apellis getting its FDA approval by the end of this year and Iveric is expected to get its approval by next year.

The CEO of NGM stated that Merck has 4 months left to decide on whether to licence their medication or not. He added that other than this program, Merck has several other eye medication programs with the company and trial medication for fatty liver known as NASH is in its final stages and their trial on a sample patient was successful. 

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