In 2015, Allergan (AGN) spent $560 million on Naurex, a small biotechnology company that had what appeared to be an important new treatment for depression. Brent Saunders, Allergan’s CEO, called the deal “a compelling and exciting investment,” and said it could help in the most severe, treatment-resistant cases of depression.
Not so fast. On Wednesday evening, Allergan announced the disappointing news that the lead drug from the deal, rapastinel, had failed to improve depression symptoms more than placebo when added to existing antidepressants in not one but three studies. The drug also appeared likely to fail in a fourth study testing whether it prevented relapses in patients whose depression had abated in the previous three trials, Allergan said.