The irony of a failed blood pressure drug is that it can raise the blood pressure of the folks who pushed for its development. And so the Gilead Sciences team is likely to feel a spike after saying their darusentan med failed a Phase III study and development is now discontinued (see here). The once-daily pill didn't lower blood pressure compared with placebo in patients with resistant hypertension.
The decision is a sobering reminder that acquiring another company can be risky. Three years ago, Gilead paid $2.6 billion for Myogen (see here), which boasted two lead candidates for treating high blood pressure, including - you guessed it - darusentan. Wall Street had actually already discounted the drug, but that was due to side effects, not efficacy.
"This may disappoint some investors who had higher hopes heading into this data, and we are admittedly surprised that the reason for the drug's demise was efficacy and not safety. Nonetheless, we did not see a clear path to the market for a hypertension drug that increases the rate of peripheral edema and heart failure for an indication whose goal it is to prevent cardiovascular complications. We had already excluded darusentan from our model so no change to our estimates at this time," wrote Joshua Schimmer, a Leerink Swann analyst, in an investor note.