Bloomberg News

BioCryst Experimental Gout Drug Helps Patients in Trial

November 15, 2011

(Updates shares in first paragraph.)

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. gained 11 percent in early trading after a study showed that adding the drugmaker’s gout medicine to a standard therapy lowered patients’ uric acid levels better than the usual treatment.

BioCryst rose 31 cents to $3.21 at 8:22 a.m. before markets opened in New York. Shares of the Durham, North Carolina-based company declined 44 percent this year before today.

The experimental medicine, given at varying doses, helped 33 to 49 percent of patients lower serum uric acid to less than 6 milligrams per deciliter when combined with the standard therapy, allopurinol, for 12 weeks, BioCryst said today in a statement. That compares with 18 percent for allopurinol alone. The 279-patient study of the drug, dubbed BCX4208, is from the second phase of three generally required for U.S. regulatory approval.

“This important study demonstrates that low doses of BCX4208 combined with allopurinol safely and significantly increase the proportion of patients reaching therapeutic goal,” Michael Becker, the study’s lead investigator and professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Chicago, said in the statement. “These encouraging safety and efficacy results support the continued development of BCX4208 added to xanthine oxidase inhibitors such as allopurinol, and the advancement of BCX4208 into Phase 3 studies.”

Disease of Kings

Gout, historically called the “disease of kings” because alcohol, protein-rich diets and obesity increase its risk, affects 8.3 million people in the U.S., according to BioCryst. It’s a form of arthritis caused by build-up of uric acid crystals around joints.

In the study, the frequency of confirmed gout flares was 5 to 11 percent among patients getting the drug compared with 5 percent for allopurinol. BioCryst tested BCX4208 at four doses ranging from 5 milligrams to 40 milligrams, combined with 300 milligrams of allopurinol, versus allopurinol by itself. Side effects were similar between the patients treated with BioCryst’s drug and those with placebo, the company said.

--Editors: Angela Zimm, Andrew Pollack

To contact the reporter on this story: Meg Tirrell in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at

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