Circassia losses grow after allergy drug failures, knocking shares

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Losses at UK drugmaker Circassia Pharmaceuticals widened further than expected in 2016, after the failure of a series of key drug trials caused it to take a £74.5m writedown.

Last week the company, which is backed by high-profile investor Neil Woodford and floated in 2014 in the UK’s biggest life-science IPO for decades, said it would halt investment in its allergy programme after a second failed clinical trial in under a year.

In its full-year results today Circassia said the failures had led to a one-off balance sheet charge £74.5m, which caused pre-tax losses for the year to more than double to £144.9m.

Shares in the group dropped 4 per cent at the start of trading.

Sales from the company’s other respiratory businesses grew roughly in line with forecasts, up 23 per cent to £23.1m. Circassia said it plans to “rapidly expand” its US sales force to help boost sales in the coming year, and Circassia chairman Francesco Granata said the company is “looking forward with optimism as it builds its revenues and advances its pipeline of promising respiratory treatments”.

Last month the company announced a “transformative” collaboration with FTSE 100 group AstraZeneca for certain US rights to two treatments for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The deal will include AstraZeneca taking a $50m stake in the group, making it the company’s third-largest shareholder.

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