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Verona Pharma drug improves lung function in study; company shares soar

Verona Pharma plc said its drug RPL554 met the primary objective of a midstage clinical trial in patients with the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a progressive and life-threatening respiratory disease that causes obstructed airflow and long-term breathing difficulties.

The phase 2b trial, conducted in 403 patients with moderate to severe COPD, showed that patients who received the drug experienced improvements in their condition when compared to placebo.

"These results are very encouraging and strongly support the progression of RPL554 into later stage development as an inhaled treatment for COPD patients," Verona Pharma CEO Jan-Anders Karlsson said in a statement.

RPL554 is a maintenance treatment for COPD, developed to help a primary treatment for the indication succeed.

The London-based company's stock was up 19.20% on the news to £1.788 per share as of 9:21 a.m. ET on March 26.