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Clinical Trials Lend Legitimacy to Samumed’s Sky-High Valuation

Local medicine maker Samumed has come one step closer to realizing its lofty $12 billion valuation after wrapping up an experiment involving one of its most valuable medicines.

Finian Tan
Osman Kibar

The company was testing its osteoarthritis drug in humans (one of the programs that had investors excited last year). The study was meant to determine how safe and effective the drug was in patients with osteoarthritis, one of the most common types of arthritis. The hope is that Samumed’s drug, which goes by the name SM04690, will re-grow the cartilage in patients’ knees.

Over 20 million Americans suffer from cartilage wearing away in their joints (osteoarthritis) and the resulting pain associated with movement. There’s no real treatment besides pain medication, which can exacerbate the problem (feeling less pain, patients tend to move around more and further wear down that cartilage).

Samumed’s drug could potentially re-grow this cartilage.

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“Anybody who can grow cartilage safely will be bigger than Apple,” said Finian Tan, an investor in Samumed and chairman at Vickers Venture Partners, in an email last year.

Samumed has just completed Phase 2 human trials of the drug. The trial went for a full year and included 455 patients with moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee. The subjects received a single injection.

Samumed presented interim data (from the first half of the trial) last month at a conference in Spain, stating that the product appeared to re-grow cartilage (as demonstrated by increased space observed in the medial joint on an X-ray).

Now that the trial has concluded, Samumed said the drug appeared to be safe and well-tolerated.

The company’s CEO, Osman Kibar, said in an email that the company plans to present data on how well the drug worked later this year, but did confirm that the 52-week results continued to improve from the interim data presented halfway through.

Samumed is planning to start its late-stage, pivotal studies in the first quarter of 2018, so big things could be ahead for this local biotech.

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