Durham-based BioCryst Pharmaceuticals on Friday reported a surge in second-quarter revenue, a result of licensing its recently approved flu treatment, Rapivab.
But the drug developer’s stock fell 24 percent as the company announced it will delay a Phase I clinical trial of BCX7353, a medication being developed for a potentially fatal genetic condition, hereditary angioedema. BioCryst said that in addition to a 7-day evaluation of the experimental medication, it will also conduct a 14-day evaluation.
Company executives assured analysts on a conference call that the additional testing is “prudent” and “a good thing,” and that they have not abandoned their goal of creating a once-daily pill. Investors were not assuaged. BioCryst shares closed at $10.90, down $3.37. The stock is down 8 percent this year.
“This is a completely simple, straightforward and typical thing to do in a Phase I study, there’s nothing magic about it,” BioCryst chief medical officer Bill Sheridan said. “Give the drug 14 days and measure the things we need to measure and that’s the end of it.”
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Analysts asked if BCX7353 is not showing expected results over 7 days; some acknowledged that doubling the evaluation period suggests the company is confident in the drug’s safety.
BioCryst said it has not yet started recruiting patients for the 14-day evaluation, but promised results by the end of this year.
“That doesn’t mean that we see some signal of 7353 that worries us,” said CEO Jon Stonehouse. “It’s just prudent drug development to make sure that you’ve got a comprehensive strategy.”
The company’s second-quarter revenue increased to $25.8 million from $1.5 million a year earlier, leading to second-quarter net income of $4.9 million, compared with a net loss of $14.6 million a year ago.
As cash flow improves, the company also slashed projections of cash reserve withdrawals by about a fifth to a range of $18 million to $28 million, from $65 million to $80 million. The company still expects to spend between $75 million and $95 million this year.
BioCryst will save on operating cash reserves because it received $33.7 million in upfront payments from bioCSL, the global pharmaceutical company that is licensing Rapivab, formerly called peramivir. Rapivab, an IV flu treatment approved in December, is BioCryst’s first commercially available medication.
The bioCSL revenue is the company’s first major source of commercial revenue that is not from federal research funding. The company had developed Rapivab, the first new flu medication in 15 years, with $235 million in federal research funding.
BioCryst employs 59 people and is developing several antivirals, including treatments for Ebola and Marburg virus infections.