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Atea (AVIR) Plunges on Termination of Collaboration With Roche

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Shares of a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, Atea Pharmaceuticals, Inc. AVIR, were down in after-hours trading after it announced that its partnership with pharma giant Roche RHHBY is terminated.

Atea and Roche had a collaboration whereby they were jointly developing AT-527 for the treatment of COVID-19. The alliance with Roche will be terminated on Feb 10, 2022. Atea will have full rights to continue the clinical development and future commercialization of AT-527 worldwide upon termination.

AT-527 is an oral direct-acting antiviral, which is being evaluated for protection against disease progression and the development of long-COVID complications.

Shares of the company have plunged 72.8% in the year so far compared with the industry’s decline of 14.6%.

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Last month, shares plunged significantly after the company announced that the phase II study evaluating AT-527, failed. The phase II MOONSONG study evaluating AT-527 in the outpatient setting did not meet the primary endpoint of reduction from baseline in the amount of SARS-CoV-2 virus in patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 compared to placebo in the overall study population, of which approximately two-thirds of patients were low-risk with mild symptoms.

The drug is now being evaluated in the phase III MORNINGSKY study and the data from this trial is expected in the second half of 2022.

The termination with a bigwig like Roche might be a setback for Atea given the expertise and financial prowess of the former.

As of Sep 30, 2021, Atea has cash and cash equivalents of $839.7 million with a cash runway through 2023.

Pharma/biotech companies around the world are evaluating every arsenal in their armory to combat the ongoing pandemic.

Pfizer PFE recently announced that it is seeking Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its investigational oral antiviral candidate, PAXLOVID (PF-07321332; ritonavir) in the United States for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in patients at increased risk of hospitalizations or death.

The EUA submission from Pfizer includes clinical data from an interim analysis of phase II/III EPIC-HR study, which demonstrated an 89% reduction in risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization or death compared to placebo in non-hospitalized high-risk adults with COVID-19.

Earlier in the month, Merck MRK and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced that the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has granted authorization for molnupiravir (MK-4482, EIDD-2801), the first oral antiviral medicine authorized for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults.

Merck’s application for EUA of molnupiravir is currently under review with the FDA and the European Medicines Agency has initiated a rolling review of the company’s Marketing Authorization Application.

Atea currently has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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Roche Holding AG (RHHBY) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Atea Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (AVIR) : Free Stock Analysis Report

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