Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis says it has stopped clinical trials for a new hepatitis drug after the death of a patient.
The Basel-based company informed the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of “a small number” of pancreatitis cases and one death among patients taking the drug alisporivir and other medication to treat hepatitis C.
Novartis said in a statement on Thursday that it had been notified by the FDA that clinical trials of the drug would be put on hold. Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas.
The company’s net profit fell seven per cent in 2011 to $9.25 billion (SFr8.59 billion), despite sales increasing 16 per cent to $58.57 billion.
Like many other global drugmakers, Novartis is cutting costs as the industry faces its biggest wave of patent expiries.
It will announce its first quarter results for 2012 on Tuesday.