Roche walks away from Atea partnership to develop COVID-19 pill - Metro US

Roche walks away from Atea partnership to develop COVID-19 pill

FILE PHOTO: Logo of Swiss drugmaker Roche is seen in Basel

(Reuters) -Roche Holding AG has ended a partnership with Atea Pharmaceuticals Inc to jointly develop a COVID-19 antiviral pill, the Swiss drugmaker said on Tuesday, a month after the drug failed to help patients in a small study.

Boston-based Atea’s shares fell 11% to $10.08 in extended trading, set to add to the 72% slump this year.

Many companies are racing to develop an https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/covid-19-pill-developers-aim-top-merck-pfizer-efforts-2021-09-28 oral pill as it can be taken as an early at-home treatment to help prevent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, a promising new weapon in the fight against the pandemic.

Pills from Merck & Co Inc and Pfizer Inc are currently under U.S. Food & Drug Administration review after promising data.

Roche and Atea teamed up last year to develop the oral treatment called AT-527, with Atea receiving an upfront payment of $350 million.

However, the treatment did not show a clear reduction in viral load in the overall population of patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 in a mid-stage study in October.

Roche said on Tuesday it would focus on its other COVID-19 products including antibody cocktail Ronapreve, developed in partnership with Regeneron, and arthritis drug Actemra.

The rights and licenses to AT-527 will return to Atea after the partnership ends in February, and the company said it would continue to develop the treatment and expects data from a late-stage trial in the second half of 2022.

Atea said it had the financial resources to independently drive forward the late-stage trial. The company said it had cash and cash equivalents of $839.7 million, as of September end.

(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee and Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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