May 14, 2004
Shares in Germany's Schering AG and Switzerland's Serono SA fell nearly one percent on Friday on concerns cholesterol-lowering pills could challenge their interferon drugs in treating multiple sclerosis.
Researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina produced the first clinical evidence that statins -- widely used to reduce the risk of heart attack -- can help in multiple sclerosis in an article in The Lancet medical journal.
A group of 30 patients with MS given 80 mg a day of Merck & Co Inc's (nyse: MRK - news - people) Zocor, or simvastatin, had a 44 percent reduction in brain lesions after three months of treatment, their study showed.
"Further studies are clearly needed but this data indicates that, in the longer-term, the MS therapy market could become more crowded than had been previously thought," said one pharmaceutical industry analyst.
Serono, Schering and Biogen Idec (nasdaq: BIIB - news - people) of the United States all sell expensive beta interferon injections for MS, while Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd <TEVA.TA> markets a competing product called Copaxone.
Serono shares were off 0.9 percent at 773 Swiss francs by 0840 GMT while
Schering shed 0.8 percent to 43.81 euros.
Copyright © 2004, Reuters News Service