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La Jolla's shares soar after blood pressure drug clears key study
February 27, 2017 / 11:34 AM / in 8 months

La Jolla's shares soar after blood pressure drug clears key study

Janis Herrera, 25, gets her blood pressure measured on the first day of the new Pueblo del Rio Housing Projects Wellness Center, a free clinic that will serve 3,500 low income residents, in Los Angeles, California August 7, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

(Reuters) - La Jolla Pharmaceutical Co’s shares surged as much as 76.8 percent on Monday after the company said its drug to treat low blood pressure succeeded in a key trial, taking it one step closer to bringing its first drug to market.

La Jolla said the drug met the main goal of a statistically significant improvement in raising blood pressure, versus a placebo, in a late-stage study on patients with distributive shock who had not adequately responded to existing treatments.

Distributive shock is a state in which the heart is pumping well enough, but the blood is not distributed properly to the vital organs, leading to severe hypotension.

It has various triggers, such as trauma and severe allergies. The most common, though, is sepsis, in which the immune system goes into overdrive to fight an infection or bacterial toxins.

About 500,000 patients in the United States go into distributive shock each year, and close to 200,000 do not derive enough benefit from decades-old treatments, including catecholamines such as norepinephrine, as well as vasopressin.

Each patient costs the healthcare system $100,000 on average, and about half of all patients die within thirty days, La Jolla Chief Executive George Tidmarsh said.

The company said data from the 344-patient study also showed a trend towards longer survival in patients treated with LJPC-501.

The drug is La Jolla’s lead experimental drug and is its formulation of a natural peptide that regulates blood pressure.

Overall, 22 percent of placebo-treated patients and 14 percent of LJPC-501-treated patients discontinued treatment, La Jolla said.

The San Diego, California-based company said it plans to submit a U.S. marketing application for a drug in the second half of this year, and that it would apply for a priority review.

If approved, La Jolla could also explore the use of LJPC-501 as an initial therapy for distributive shock, Tidmarsh told Reuters.

The company’s shares were up 72.2 percent at $34.21. They hit a near 15-month high of $35.14. Up to Friday’s close, they had risen about 13 percent this year.

Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza

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