BASEL, Switzerland (AP) -- Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche Group said Monday it has suspended a late-stage trial for a new rheumatoid arthritis and lupus drug after several patients died from infections.
Roche said the drug, ocrelizumab, was developed together with Biogen Idec with headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
A review found "the safety risk outweighs the benefits observed in these specific patient populations at this time" after detecting "serious and opportunistic infections, some of which were fatal," Basel-based Roche said.
Spokesman Alexander Klauser said a final decision on whether to end the trials has yet to be made. Details on how many patients died, where and when will be published once the trial data has been fully analyzed, he said.
The company said it was still testing ocrelizumab for patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. Analysts at Helvea said it was increasingly unlikely that those trials would continue, meaning the predicted 800 million Swiss francs ($748.5 million) sales for the drug wouldn't be achieved.
Roche shares were down 0.4 percent at 179.90 Swiss francs ($168.33) on the Zurich exchange.