Shares tumble as Bioxell lead drug fails in trial

ZURICH Thu Apr 9, 2009 12:24pm BST

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ZURICH (Reuters) - Italian biotech Bioxell SpA said its Elocalcitol drug to treat overactive bladder (OAB) failed to reach its main target in a mid-stage clinical trial, and that it would cut costs, sending its stock to an all-time low.

Bioxell, which is listed on the Zurich stock exchange and does not yet have a drug on the market, said on Thursday it would scrap some other drug studies as it cuts costs.

Its shares had fallen 26 percent to 3.50 Swiss francs by 1011 GMT, having earlier hit an all-time low of 3.33 francs.

"In light of the top-line OAB results and the current financial climate, our short-term objective is to focus our spending very carefully and ensure strict cost control," Chief Financial Officer Niels Ackermann said in a statement.

An overactive bladder is characterized by an urgent need to urinate frequently and often at night and affects about 26 million people in seven major pharmaceutical markets, according to Bioxell.

"With the announcement of the failure of elocalcitol in OAB, we do not believe the project can be partnered," Vontobel analyst Andrew Weiss said.

Bioxell is trying to conserve its cash pile of 66 million francs ($57 million) and at current burn rates that will give the company up to three years to redefine its strategy, Kepler Capital Markets analyst Florian Gaiser said.

"We have to review our business case assumptions," Gaiser said, adding his price target of 22 francs was now obsolete.

"Visibility however is very low," he said.

The group said it will assess possible acquisitions as its seeks to broaden its new drug pipeline.

($1=1.148 Swiss Franc)

(Writing by Sam Cage; editing by Will Waterman and Karen Foster)

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