Gilead misses key goal in NASH liver disease trial, shares sink

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By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Gilead Sciences Inc said on Monday that a late-stage study of a key experimental drug aimed at treating NASH, a progressive fatty liver disease, failed to meet its main goal, sending the company's shares down 4.6 percent in after-hours trading.

The study compared the drug, called selonsertib, with a placebo treatment in a trial of nearly 900 patients with compensated cirrhosis, an advanced form of Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis, or NASH.

"While we are disappointed that the STELLAR-4 study did not achieve its primary endpoint, we remain committed to advancing therapies for patients with advanced fibrosis due to NASH, where there is a significant unmet need for effective and well-tolerated treatments," Dr. John McHutchison, Gilead's chief scientific officer, said in a statement.

Analysts have projected the market for NASH treatments to reach $20 billion to $35 billion as populations with fatty diets increasingly develop the disease.

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