Drug maker AstraZeneca says a new antidepressant drug it hopes will be a big money-earner did not perform as well as expected in a test.
AstraZeneca, which is developing the drug, known as TC-5214. in collaboration with U.S.-based Targacept, said Tuesday that the drug did not perform as well as hoped versus a placebo in the first of four tests in Phase III trials.
The company said further tests are continuing.
AstraZeneca hopes the drug can replace earnings from its Seroquel medication, which will face generic competition beginning next year.
AstraZeneca shares were down 3.2 percent at 2,872.5 pence in morning trading in London.
"Although three separate Phase III trials are still ongoing and we believe that AstraZeneca only needs two of these to be positive to support a New Drug Application filing, the probability of success has diminished in our view," said analysts at Shore Capital Stockbrokers.
The New Drug Application is part of the regulatory process in the United States.
Analysts at Panmore Gordon & Co. added: "Although it is never a good thing to fail Phase III trials, it should be noted that the company had been doing a good job at managing expectations for this high risk project."