Fisons scraps anti-asthma drug

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FISONS' share price fell sharply yesterday after the pharmaceuticals group revealed it was dropping one of its two most promising new drugs.

The shares fell 25p to 169p after the company said it was stopping work on Tipredane, an anti-asthma and rhinitis steroid that has been undergoing clinical trials in several countries.

Cedric Scroggs, Fisons' chief executive, said the decision was a disappointment, but the drug, scheduled to be introduced commercially in 1997, had failed to prove sufficiently effective.

He said resources that would have been pumped into Tipredane would now go to fund a number of promising prospects, including new versions of Tilade, Fisons' latest anti-asthma product, and Remacemide.

Remacemide, an epilepsy treatment, is now Fisons' main new product hope but it is about a year behind Tipredane in trials and approvals.

Analysts said the abandonment of Tipredane was predictable as Glaxo had recently started marketing its own anti-asthma steroid, Flixotide. Tipredane would have been a late arrival, with no particular advantages over Flixotide and without Glaxo's marketing muscle.

'Fisons is a niche company at best,' said Robin Gilbert, an analyst with Panmure Gordon. 'Trying to get into big speculative markets five years out is not a wise course of action for it.'

Zeneca, the drugs side of ICI, said yesterday that it would accelerate development of Accolate, its new anti- asthma drug. Clinical testing should be complete by the end of 1994 and results from trials so far will be provided at the end of this month.