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Roche walks away from Atea partnership to develop COVID-19 pill

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Roche walks away from Atea partnership to develop COVID-19 pill

Roche walks away from Atea partnership to develop COVID-19 pill

Nov 16 (Reuters) – Roche Holding AG (ROG.S) has ended a partnership with Atea Pharmaceuticals Inc (AVIR.O) to jointly develop a COVID-19 antiviral pill, the Swiss drugmaker said on Tuesday, a month after the drug failed to help patients in a small study.Boston-based Atea’s shares fell 11% to $10.08 in extended trading, set to add to the 72% slump this year.Many companies are racing to develop an oral pill as it can be taken as an early at-home treatment to help prevent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, a promising new weapon in the fight against the pandemic.Pills from Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) and Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) are currently under U.S. Food & Drug Administration review after promising data.Roche and Atea teamed up last year to develop the oral treatment called AT-527, with Atea receiving an upfront payment of $350 million.However, the treatment did not show a clear reduction in viral load in the overall population of patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 in a mid-stage study in October.Roche said on Tuesday it would focus on its other COVID-19 products including antibody cocktail Ronapreve, developed in partnership with Regeneron (REGN.O), and arthritis drug Actemra.The rights and licenses to AT-527 will return to Atea after the partnership ends in February, and the company said it would continue to develop the treatment and expects data from a late-stage trial in the second half of 2022.Atea said it had the financial resources to independently drive forward the late-stage trial. The company said it had cash and cash equivalents of $839.7 million, as of September end.

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