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IN BRIEF / PHARMACEUTICALS

Idec Halts Drug Trial; Zevalin Pay Delayed

June 11, 2002|Bloomberg News

Idec Pharmaceuticals Corp. said that it suspended all studies of an experimental antibody drug and that Medicare payments for its newest cancer therapy will come later than expected.

The news, announced after the markets closed, sent San Diego-based Idec's shares down as much as $4.62, or 12%, to $33.75 in extended trading, after closing up 13 cents at $38.37 on Nasdaq.

Studies of Idec-131 were halted after at least one patient developed a dangerous blood clot that might be linked to the drug, the company said. Idec was developing Idec-131 for treating psoriasis, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis and a dangerous blood condition known as idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura.

Idec also said that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will begin paying for Zevalin, the company's radiation-bearing cancer drug, in October. Idec and some analysts had expected payments to begin three months sooner.

"Having the delay of one quarter [before getting Medicare payments] clearly would impact some estimates for calendar year 2002," said Chief Executive William Rastetter. "You may want to revisit those estimates."

The Food and Drug Administration approved Zevalin in February. The government must formulate a new set of standards for reimbursing doctors for the drug, and some doctors have been waiting for those standards before beginning Zevalin's use, the company said.

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