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Arcutis (ARQT) Terminates Study of Drug to Treat Vitiligo

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Arcutis Biotherapeutics (ARQT - Free Report) announced that it has decided to terminate the phase IIa study evaluating its small molecule inhibitor of JAK1, ARQ-252, to treat vitiligo disease. The study was initiated in March 2021.

We remind investors that the drug was also being evaluated in a phase I/IIb study to treat chronic hand eczema, which failed to meet its primary efficacy endpoint since none of the ARQ-252 arms achieved statistical significance versus vehicle.

The phase IIa study of the candidate treating vigiligo showed no unexpected safety or tolerability reasons for termination. The decision to end the study was based on Arcutis’ further analyses of the ARQ-252 drug formulation used in treating both vitiligo and chronic hand eczema. Further analysis pointed out that the critical driver for the lack of efficacy was inadequate local drug delivery to the skin.

In the year so far, Arcutis’ stock has declined 5.8% against the industry’s rise of 1.4%.

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Per the company, ARQ-252 still remains a promising strategy for the treatment of both chronic hand eczema and vitiligo, and has potential as a new treatment for both indications after reformulation as a more active drug to target skin indications. Moreover, the active pharmaceutical ingredient of the drug, SHR0302, has demonstrated efficacy and safety as an investigational oral formulation in other inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and atopic dermatitis.

SHR0302, a potent and highly selective JAK1 inhibitor, was exclusively licensed by Arcutis for all topical dermatological uses in the United States, Europe, Japan and Canada from China-based Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co., Ltd in 2018. Hengrui and its subsidiary Reistone Biopharma are currently studying the oral formulation of SHR0302 to treat multiple indications including rheumatoid arthritis, alopecia areata, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Arcutis currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Some better ranked stocks in the medical sector include BioNTech (BNTX - Free Report) , Bayer (BAYRY - Free Report) and Repligen (RGEN - Free Report) . While BioNTech carries a Zacks Rank #1, both Bayer and Repligen currently carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

BioNTech’s earnings estimates for 2021 have increased from $18.39 to $30.58 per share in the past 60 days while that of 2022 has risen from $7.55 to $24.90 over the same period. The stock has surged 174.8% this year so far.

Bayer’s earnings estimates for 2021 have increased from $1.74 to $1.81 per share in the past 60 days while that of 2022 has risen from $1.89 to $2.00 over the same period. The stock has risen 3.8% in the year so far.

Repligen’s earnings estimates for 2021 have increased from $1.91 to $2.26 in the past 60 days while that of 2022 has risen from $2.23 to $2.56 per share over the same period. The stock has risen 4.3% in the year so far.

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