Little Conatus’ Novartis-partnered liver drug suffers third straight defeat, but CEO Mento is still holding out hope

Little Conatus? Novartis-partnered liver drug is one step closer to the scrap heap, with its third mid-stage failure.

The Swiss drugmaker handed the San Diego-based biotech $50 million upfront and an injection of confidence in late 2016 to license the drug, emricasan. Since then, it has flopped in a trifecta of studies. Another Phase II study is expected to readout later this year.

Steven Mento

The 318-patient trial, dubbed ENCORE-NF, was testing two doses (5 mg, 50 mg) of the drug against a placebo in biopsy-confirmed NASH and liver fibrosis patients. Emricasan missed the primary endpoint of improving fibrosis by ?1 on the validated Clinical Research Network (CRN) stage system, with no worsening of steatohep