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Genentech Halts Trial of Allergy Drug

January 17, 2006|From Bloomberg News

Genentech Inc., the world's second-biggest biotechnology company, stopped a clinical trial of a peanut-allergy treatment over safety concerns about some reactions and not the drug itself.

A so-called Phase II trial involving Xolair, an asthma drug cleared by U.S. and European Union regulators, was stopped because of hypersensitivity reactions, Chief Executive Art Levinson said last week, according to a Thomson StreetEvents transcript of the call.

A Phase II trial includes patients. The reactions were reported in two cases, RBC Capital Markets analyst Jason Kantor wrote in a report.

Along with co-developers Novartis and Tanox Inc., South San Francisco-based Genentech is testing Xolair as a treatment for peanut allergies. The injectable drug prevents the immune system from overreacting and obstructing airways.

Genentech will discuss alternative plans for the treatment with the Food and Drug Administration "early this year," Levinson said, according to the transcript.

A call after hours to the office of Genentech spokeswoman Debra Charlesworth wasn't immediately returned.

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