MAP Pharmaceuticals Shares Decline After Asthma Drugs Fails To Meet Late-Stage Goal

Tue, 02/24/2009 - 3:52am
NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of MAP Pharmaceuticals Inc. fell in premarket trading, after the drug developer said its experimental treatment for children with asthma failed to meet its main goal in a late-stage study. The stock fell as low as $4.20 in premarket trading, after closing at $11.03 during the regular session Monday. Shares have traded between $1.75 and $14.97 over the last 52 weeks. Late Monday, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company said a Phase III trial studying two doses of Unit Dose Budesonide showed the drug, which is a fine mist version of the steroid budesonide, didn't control asthma better than placebo. The study assessed changes from baseline in nighttime and daytime symptom scores, including cough, wheeze and shortness of breath. The study included 360 children ages 12 months to eight years who had never taken steroids, and who received either 0.25 of a milligram of the drug, 0.135mg, or a placebo twice a day for 12 weeks. MAP's partner on the drug candidate is AstraZeneca PLC. Deutsche Bank-North America analyst David M. Steinberg downgraded shares of MAP to "Hold" from "Buy" and cut the price target to $5 from $15. "Out of MAP's two Phase 3 pipeline products,the UDB program had been the one that offered lower risk along with higher potential peak sales," he said, in a note to investors. Though another late-stage program, focusing on chronic migraines, could still generate more than $250 million in annual revenue, he added, the company's current value is not justified and the development risks have increased. "This negative result is quite surprising given the overall positive results for the previously conducted Phase 2 trial, AstraZeneca's recently signed lucrative partnership for this compound, and the long track record of the base molecule budesonide," he said. Meanwhile, Leerink Swann cut its rating on the stock to "Market Perform" from "Outperform."

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