Depression Drug Vyvanse Sent Back To Drawing Board

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The pharmaceutical group Shire has decided to stop developing the drug Vyvanse for use to treat depression.

The Amphetamine-based Vyvanse is a popular ADHD drug, having made over $1.2 billion dollars for related therapy last year. However, Shire was hoping that the drug would work for patients suffering from depression. Unfortunately for Shire, the drug failed to improve symptoms for adult patients when provided as an add on therapy in the later stages of clinical testing.

The failed clinical trials have resulted in the London-based Shire no longer pursuing usage of the drug for depression.

The news was not met well by investors, especially since the drug's use for depression was expected to bring in $315 million by 2018. The company's shares dropped 2% following the announcement.

Flemming Ornskov, the Chief Executive for the drugmaker, stated that despite the disappointing news, Vyvanse is still a very popular prescription for ADHD. Ornskov also shared that Shire intended to move the medication into testing for treating binge eating.

Still, some are surprised. Many had thought Vyvanse would be of more use for treating depression. Analysts certainly weren't expecting binge eating to be a viable alternative. While the area of treating binge eating could be lucrative (diet and weight loss products usually are), the area is untested with regard to Vyvanse. There's no telling how successful or unsuccessful the endeavor will be, which may keep investors on edge.

Investors have good reason to be antsy. In December of last year, the group had a major setback regarding lifitegrast, a dry-eye drug. Late stage clinical trials were disappointingly mixed.

Much of Shire's success as of late has been the acquisition of other drug companies. Shire bought ViroPharma, a company specializing in rare diseases, for $4.2 billion this past November. The move towards acquiring companies and products that treat rare diseases and ADHD treatment is in line with ongoing pharmaceutical trends and it has allowed the company to exceed market expectations thus far.

Even with these latest setbacks, Shire remains a favorite among pharmaceutical analysts who see the group's stock as definitely worth buying. Shares in Shire will report the company's full-year results on February 13th.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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