Leerink reiterates rating on Aurinia following trial results

Leerink reiterated its “outperform” rating on Aurinia Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AUPH; TSX:AUP) after the reported top-line results with voclosporin in a Phase 2b clinical study in patients with active lupus nephritis.

Analyst Joseph Schwartz writes that the study met its primary endpoint of complete remission and improvements in partial remission versus placebo. While efficacy was higher among patients receiving the low-dose, the high-dose cohort also achieved meaningful improvements in partial remission.

Mr. Schwartz said shares of Aurinia are trading down due to more deaths for patients in the low-dose cohort, which the company attributes to the severe underlying nature of the disease.

In early trading on Monday, the stock has sunk 56%, or $2.29, to $1.80.

“While the overall adverse event profile seems to be comparable, the excess death rate needs to be explored further,” Mr. Schwartz said. In addition, the “efficacy seen in the drug arms looks lower than what we had expected, but still respectable.”