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Ironwood Slumps, Halts Development of Gastroparesis Drug

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s IRWD shares slumped almost 4% immediately after the company announced disappointing top-line data from an exploratory phase IIa study on one of its pipeline candidates, IW-9179. The company was developing IW-9179 for the treatment of patients suffering from diabetic gastroparesis.

In the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, patients with diabetic gastroparesis received either IW-9179 (oral) or placebo once or twice daily for four weeks. Moreover, the efficacy was evaluated through multiple patient assessments of cardinal symptoms associated with gastroparesis. Results demonstrated that IW-9179 did not significantly reduce the severity of these symptoms compared to placebo.

However, IW-9179 was found to be well tolerated with the most common adverse event being diarrhea, which was mostly mild to moderate in nature.

Based on these study results, Ironwood has decided to discontinue the development of IW-9179 for gastroparesis.

Considering that the company was looking to target the lucrative gastrointestinal market with the successful development of IW-9179, the latest news on the pipeline front is discouraging. Moreover, the company has only one marketed product, Linzess, which is approved for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) or chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC).

Ironwood intends to continue to focus its efforts on ongoing programs across three franchises – IBS-C/CIC, vascular and fibrotic disease, and refractory gastroesophageal reflux disease.

We note that the company is working to broaden Linzess’ label by expanding the targeted patient population and gaining approval for additional indications.

Ironwood is a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) stock. Some better-ranked stocks in the health care sector include AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inc. AMAG, Actelion Ltd. ALIOF and Emergent BioSolutions, Inc. EBS. All three stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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