Saanich-based pharmaceutical company stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Saanich-based pharmaceutical company, Aurinia Pharmaceuticals, saw share values soar on Thursday after success with clinical trials for a new lupus drug.

On Dec. 4, the company announced that results from the AURORA Phase 3 drug trials for voclosporin had been successful in treating kidney inflammation in patients with lupus nephritis – an autoimmune disease.

Aurinia’s chief medical officer Neil Solomons explained that patients with lupus can experience “irreversible kidney damage” that can lead to kidney failure and death.

READ ALSO: Saanich biotech company secures $52M US for global drug study

The study included 357 patients from 27 countries living with lupus and the results showed that participants using voclosporin experienced a “renal response rate” of 40.8 per cent while just 22.5 per cent of participants in the control group – those who didn’t receive the drug – saw improvements.

Data also indicated that the group taking voclosporin saw no more adverse events than the group receiving standard lupus treatment, noted Brad Rovin, chief of the nephrology division at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre.

Following the announcement of the drug’s successful Phase 3 trial, the company’s share price exploded on Thursday, rising from Wednesday’s close of $11.13 per share to touch a 52-week high of $23.04 before closing at $19.75. Its shares have risen from a 52-week low of $4.70 to close Friday at $20.48 – a gain of 336 per cent, driving the company’s market cap to $1.93 billion.

Lupus has historically been difficult to treat and new treatment options were needed, said Stevan Gibson, president and CEO of the Lupus Foundation of America. Voclosporin is the first effective therapeutic treatment option and the successful trial marks a step forward in treating the potentially deadly disease, he noted.

READ ALSO: Mental health call temporarily shuts down Trans Canada Highway in View Royal

Aurinia co-founder Mike Martin noted that after eight years of hard work, staff are excited about the outcomes of the trial. he emphasized that the drug’s success will be significant for people living with lupus – close to 1 million people worldwide.

“It was a pleasure to share the results,” Martin said. Given the data, he wasn’t surprised by the uptake in stock.

He emphasized how grateful the company is for the participants and for the opportunity to change the trajectory of people’s lives.

The company is planning to put the drug on the market as early as 2021, but first it must pass though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process. The drug was given a fast track by the FDA in 2016 and the company plans to submit to the FDA in early 2020.

With files from Paul Bucci.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Saanich starts reserve fund to enhance municipality’s urban forest

Funds will go to planting more trees support urban canopy growth, outreach

Homes fit for royals for sale in North Saanich

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have returned to Greater Victoria

Gold Rush star dons Lucky Lager shirt in latest episode

Brennan Ruault, originally from Invermere, joined the show in the sixth season

VIDEO: Protesters block entrance to Victoria government building to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

Activists want Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs demands to be upheld, observed and respected

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Police suspect foul play in Cowichan Tribes death

Police are looking at foul play in relation to a death on… Continue reading

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

Most Read