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Bellus Health Tumbles On Failed Midstage Study Of Lead Drug

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Bellus Health Tumbles On Failed Midstage Study Of Lead Drug

Canadian biopharma BELLUS Health Inc (NASDAQ: BLU) was losing about three-fourths of its value in Monday's trading session. 

What Happened: Announcing top-line results from the mid-phase RELIEF study of its lead drug BLU-5937 in patients with refractory chronic cough, Laval, Quebec-based BELLUS said the study did not meet the primary endpoint of placebo-adjusted reduction in awake cough frequency at any dose level.

A clinically meaningful and highly statistically significant placebo-adjusted reduction in cough frequency was achieved in a pre-specified sub-group of high cough count patients, the company  said.

High cough count patients are those at or above the baseline median average of 32.4 coughs per hour.

The investigational therapy was well-tolerated, with no serious adverse events and no withdrawals due to treatment-related adverse events at any dose, Bellus said. 

Why It Matters: BLU-5937 is the company's sole investigational therapy that, apart from chronic cough, is also being evaluated for chronic pruritus associated with atopic dermatitis.

No treatments have been approved for refractory chronic cough, a condition that affects the quality of life of millions of patients globally.

What's Next: Given the promise shown in high cough count patients, BELLUS is planning to advance BLU-5937 into a Phase 2a study.

"We believe the Phase 2 data support moving BLU-5937 forward into an adaptive Phase 2b trial enriched for higher cough count patients. We expect to begin this trial in the fourth quarter of 2020," CEO Roberto Bellini said in a statement. 

BLU Price Action: At last check, Bellus Health shares were plunging 78.08% to $2.64. 

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