Esperion Therapeutics Shares Briefly Halted on Late-Stage Cholesterol Trial

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Esperion Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ESPR) shares were halted in premarket trading on Wednesday after the firm announced late-stage trial results for its cholesterol drug. Specifically, the Phase 3 study evaluated bempedoic acid and its efficacy, safety and tolerability compared with a placebo in high-risk patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease or at high risk for the disease.

The 24-week study achieved low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) lowering totaling 26% in patients on bempedoic acid who remained on treatment at both week 12 and week 24, compared with placebo that had a decrease of 2%.

The study met its primary endpoint with LDL-C lowering of 23% at 12 weeks in the intent to treat analysis, compared with placebo, which had a decrease of 1%. Patients treated with bempedoic acid also achieved a significantly greater reduction of 25% in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), an important marker of the underlying inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease, compared with placebo that had an increase of 3%.

Professor Dr. med. Ulrich Laufs, member of Esperion’s Phase 3 Executive Committee and director of the Department of Cardiology at Leipzig University, commented:

The dataset from this study is reassuring and highly consistent with what we’ve seen previously with bempedoic acid.  For the millions of patients with hypercholesterolemia who are considered statin intolerant and have limited treatment options, bempedoic acid provides meaningful LDL-cholesterol lowering and statin-like reductions in hsCRP. The medical community is in need of a new oral therapy which is effective, well tolerated and convenient for this complex patient population who may have run out of other options.

Although shares were halted initially, there wasn’t a significant fluctuation in price on the release.

Overall, Esperion has outperformed the broad markets, with its stock up about 18% in the past 52 weeks. However, in 2018 alone, the stock is down about 40%.

Shares of Esperion were last seen up 3% at $40.98, with a consensus analyst price target of $95.77 and a 52-week range of $30.95 to $82.68.