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

Police incident in Mount Douglas Park leads to road closure

Officers turning cars away, letting hikers go up trails

PHOTOS: Women’s March through downtown Victoria draws crowds of activists, allies

Attendees of all ages carried instruments, posters with empowering messages

Victoria resident lives well despite dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

New Oak Bay bylaw supports planting 5,000 new trees

Residents can share thoughts on new tree protection bylaw at Jan. 29 open house

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Ice chunk from truck crushes vehicle windshield on Vancouver Island

None injured, but Nanaimo RCMP say there can be fines for accumulations of ice and snow

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Most Read