Roche exits Atea partnership to develop COVID-19 pill – Community News

Roche exits Atea partnership to develop COVID-19 pill

Swiss drug manufacturer Roche’s logo is on display at its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, Jan. 30, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Nov. 16 (Reuters) – Roche Holding AG (ROG.S) has ended a partnership with Atea Pharmaceuticals Inc (AVIR.O) to jointly develop an antiviral pill against COVID-19, the Swiss drugmaker said Tuesday, a month after the drug was released. had failed to help patients in a small study.

Shares of Boston-based Atea fell 11% to $10.08 in prolonged trading, contributing to the 72% drop this year.

Many companies are rushing to develop an oral pill because it can be taken as an early home treatment to help prevent hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, a promising new weapon in the fight against the pandemic.

Pills from Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) and Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) are currently under review by the US Food & Drug Administration after promising data.

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

However, the treatment showed no apparent 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 Tuesday it would focus on its other COVID-19 products, including antibody cocktail Ronapreve, developed in partnership with Regeneron (REGN.O), and arthritis drug Actemra.

Rights and licenses for 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 late-stage trial data in the second half of 2022.

Atea said it had the financial means to continue the trial independently at a late stage. The company said it had $839.7 million in cash and cash equivalents as of late September.

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

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.