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Menlo discontinues cough drug development after midstage study failure

Menlo Therapeutics Inc. will no longer develop serlopitant as a potential treatment for chronic cough after the drug failed to significantly help patients in a midstage study.

The phase 2 study evaluated serlopitant in 185 patients with chronic cough that was unresponsive to previous treatments. The study's main goal was to reduce the 24-hour cough frequency of the patients after 12 weeks of treatment.

At 12 weeks, patients who were treated with serlopitant demonstrated 31% less reduction in cough frequency compared to the placebo group. However, a key secondary analysis of the results found that while 44% of the serlopitant patient group experienced 30% or greater reduction in their cough frequency, as did 54% of the patients taking a placebo.

Menlo Therapeutics' stock dropped 39.57% to $6.14 at the close of U.S. trading on Oct. 8 following the news of the study's results.

The Redwood City, Calif.-based biopharmaceutical company will continue the ongoing phase 2 trial of the drug for treating pruritus or chronic itchy skin associated with psoriasis. The company expects the study's results to be available in December.

Additionally, Menlo Therapeutics is enrolling patients in two late-stage trials of serlopitant in patients with pruritus associated with prurigo nodularis, a skin disease that causes the formation of hard and itchy lumps on the skin.

The company also intends to conduct a phase 2 clinical trial involving patients with chronic pruritus of unknown origin in 2018, with the results expected in the first half of 2020.