Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. pulling the plug on a study for a drug to treat hepatitis C after a patient suffered heart failure.
The drug BMS-986094, formerly known as INX-189, was in Phase II trials. The drug is a nucleotide polymerase inhibitor, or “nuke.” The drug was being tested as a treatment for hepatitis C, a viral disease that leads to inflammation of the liver.
Chronic infections can lead to scarring of the liver and ultimately to cirrhosis. In some cases, those with cirrhosis will go on to develop liver failure, liver cancer, or life-threatening esophageal and gastric varices. The disease affects 170 million people worldwide.
Bristol-Myers was just one of several drug companies hoping to bring an all-oral hepatitis C treatment and tap into what is believed to become a multibillion-dollar market. The current standard treatment for hepatitis C is the injectable drug interferon, which can be difficult for patients to tolerate.
The study on Bristol-Myers’ experimental drug was suspended after a patient, who had received a 200-milligram dose of the drug, experienced heart failure. In a statement, the pharmaceutical company said “the cause of the safety issue and any potential relationship to study drug are unknown at this time.”
The company says it will evaluate patient data as well as assess all other patients in the study, and then decide what measure to take. Patient assessments include full physical exams and imaging tests to measure heart health.