Trials of New Painkiller Halted by FDA Over Concern of Joint Damage

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Clinical trails by Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) and other drug makers studying a new painkiller have been halted due to concerns those drugs may be linked to joint damage and the need for total joint replacement.

The painkillers, known as anti-nerve-growth factor drugs, or NGFs, inhibit the production of nerve growth factor and are believed to reduce pain.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration told J&J last week that its fulranumab development program had been placed on full clinical hold.

AstraZeneca, meanwhile, halted early-stage trials of its medi-578 in July shortly after Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) suspended trials of its tanezumab drug over joint concerns.

Most recently, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN) said the FDA put its NGF inhibiting pain drug for osteoarthritis on hold after a patient in another company’s trial developed avascular necrosis of a joint, a condition that arises when bone tissues dies due to lack of blood supply.

The FDA is concerned that anti-nerve-growth drugs may be associated with conditions that ultimately lead to joint replacement.

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