By Paul Serafino and Allison Connolly
Merck & Co. and Intercell AG (ICLL) said a safety panel advised halting patient enrollment in a test of an experimental vaccine against a deadly hospital infection. Intercell slid 28 percent.
The vaccine, known as V710, aims to prevent infection caused by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. The independent data monitoring committee recommended the suspension while it weighs the benefits to the patients against the product’s risk, the companies said in a statement.
Intercell Chief Executive Officer Gerd Zettlmeissl said the product benefited some patients and the panel’s advice “doesn’t mean this vaccine has failed and doesn’t mean that this program will be stopped.” The decision is the second research disappointment for Vienna-based Intercell in four months and the stock sank to its lowest level in more than five years.
“This is a significant setback,” Peter Welford, an analyst at Jefferies International Ltd. in London, wrote in a report today. The vaccine was designed with Intercell’s technology to identify antigens that trigger bacteria-fighting antibodies, and the trial’s halt may “dent the perceived long- term value of this platform,” he wrote.