August 7, 2018
Bioscience Notebook

Melinta widens 2Q losses after rapid growth; Biohaven's Alzheimer's trial begins

Photo | Contributed
Photo | Contributed
Melinta Therapeutics CEO Dan Wechsler
Photo | Contributed
Biohaven CEO Dr. Vlad Coric.

New Haven-based antibiotics maker Melinta Therapeutics Inc. on Tuesday reported higher second-quarter losses compared to a year ago, an increase it attributed partly to its expansion after merging with a North Carolina company last year.

For the period ended June 30, Melinta, which merged with publicly-traded Cempra Inc. last fall, posted a net loss of $55.8 million, or $1.38 per share, compared to $20.4 million during the same quarter in 2017.

The losses came even as second quarter revenues tripled for the company, which launched its first commercial drug, Baxdela, to fight drug-resistant skin infections, and acquired the infectious disease arm of New Jersey-based The Medicines Co. in January.

That acquisition included the newly-launched antibiotic Vabomere, which treats urinary tract infections.

Melinta posted net revenue of $12 million in the second quarter, up from $4 million during the second quarter of 2017.

SG&A (selling, general and administrative) expenses rose to $34.9 million, from $7.7 million in the second quarter of 2017, an increase driven in part by the hiring of 70 new sales representatives, Melinta said. Research and development costs rose by $1.7 million compared to the same time last year.

"Melinta took important steps forward during the second quarter, with solid sales performance from our new launches of Baxdela and Vabomere and the completion of a public follow-on offering of common shares that significantly strengthened our long-term financial position," Melinta CEO and President Dan Wechsler said in a statement. "We expect our sales trajectory to increase in the second half of the year."

In other news, New Haven's Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Co. Ltd. said it has enrolled the first patient in a Phase 2/3 clinical trial of its potential Alzheimer's drug, trigriluzole.

Biohaven says the drug can ease symptoms by normalizing levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate in the brain.

The trial, conducted with the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), will examine the effectiveness and safety of trigriluzole in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's, Biohaven said.

A total of 292 patients across the country will be given either 280 mg of trigriluzole, or a placebo, daily for 48 weeks.

"We are excited to advance trigriluzole in another late-stage clinical trial that reflects the broad therapeutic potential of trigriluzole in neurologic conditions," Biohaven CEO Vlad Coric said in a statement. "The trial, if positive, may contribute to the regulatory package necessary to establish the effectiveness of trigriluzole for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease."

Natalie Missakian can be reached at news@newhavenbiz.com

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