Pancreatic Cancer Trial Enrollment Halt Damages Halozyme

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Halozyme Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: HALO) will need some therapeutics of its own, as are its shareholders. Its shares got pounded Friday morning on news of a temporary halt of its Phase II trial enrollment and dosing for its pancreatic cancer study.

Halozyme reported Friday morning that the company will temporarily halt patient enrollment and dosing of PEGPH20 in its ongoing Phase II trial evaluating PEGPH20 in patients with pancreatic cancer. This decision to halt the enrollment was based on a recommendation received on Thursday from an independent Data Monitoring Committee.

This independent Data Monitoring Committee was said to be assessing clinical data that indicate a possible difference in the thromboembolic event rate between the group of patients treated with PEGPH20, nab-paclitaxel and gemcitabine versus the group of patients treated with nab-paclitaxel and gemcitabine without PEGPH20.

Halozyme is now halting enrollment and dosing of PEGPH20 as precautionary actions while the independent Data Monitoring Committee’s full evaluation of the data is taking place.

Dr. Helen Torley, president and CEO of Halozyme, said, “Patient safety is our first priority. We will be providing additional information to the independent Data Monitoring Committee as quickly as possible so they can complete their assessment and we can determine next steps.”

Halozyme had revenues of $54.8 million in 2013, but it lost nearly $83.5 million. As of the end of the year, its cash and short-term securities were about $71.5 million.

Halozyme shares were down 4.5% on Thursday, but the real damage was seen on Friday morning as shares were indicated down a sharp 20% at $9.17. The stock has traded in a range of $5.03 to $18.18 over the past 52-weeks and its market cap was $1.32 billion as of Thursday’s closing price.