Nine patients had to be hospitalized and one eventually died after taking an experimental hepatitis C drug as part of a phase II clinical trial, resulting in the premature stoppage of the trial earlier this month (August 1). Although the cause of illness and death has not been confirmed, they could potentially be linked to the drug’s heart and kidney toxicity effects, Nature reported.
The drug, a polymerase inhibitor called BMS-986094that thwarts the viral replication machinery, was acquired earlier this year by Bristol-Myers Squibb. The company reportedly spent 1.8 billion in acquiring the drug’s original maker, Inhibitex, according to Nature. However, news of the clinical trial troubles has already caused a marked drop in the company’s shares.
There are currently several hepatitis C treatments available, including two new protease inhibitors—boceprevir and telaprevir—that were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year. However, the hunt for newer treatments with minimal side effects is pressing since current treatments have serious side effects such as anemia, cardiac arrhythmias, severe depression, and flu-like symptoms.