Experimental osteoporosis drug bests Lilly’s Forteo in study

Amgen Inc. and Belgian partner UCB SA said an experimental osteoporosis drug designed to promote new bone growth helped mend older women’s hip bone density in an advanced clinical test, sending UCB’s stock to the highest level in more than five years.

The medicine, called romosozumab, showed better results than Eli Lilly and Co.’s Forteo after 12 months, Amgen and UCB said in a joint statement Wednesday.

Forteo was Indianapolis-based Lilly's sixth-best-selling drug in 2014, with $1.32 billion in worldwide revenue. Lilly shares fell 3.1 percent Tuesday, to $79.80 each, amid a major market selloff.

In the study, about 436 post-menopausal women deemed at high risk of fractures were moved from a family of drugs called bisphosphonates that include Merck & Co.’s Fosamax and given either romosozumab or Forteo for a year. The ones on romosozumab fared better, the companies said, without giving more details because the study results are still being analyzed.

Shares of UCB surged 7.9 percent Tuesday, the biggest gain since May 10, 2010.

The companies must show romosozumab can reduce bone fractures, not just restore density, to gain regulatory approval, though the study results send “a positive message,” KBC Securities analyst Jan De Kerpel wrote in a note to clients.

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