By David Sachs

Merck KGaA shares fell in early trading after the firm discontinued a late-stage trial for a cancer drug.

At 0729 GMT, Merck shares were down 10.1% at EUR150.25 after falling as low as EUR149.05.

The German life-sciences company said late Monday that it canceled the Phase 3 trial of xevinapant, meant to treat a type of head and neck cancer that cannot be surgically removed. The decision came after an independent committee found that the drug was unlikely to achieve its main goal of extending patients' lives without the cancer worsening, Merck said.

Investors can expect an impairment of around 60 million euros ($64.4 million) from the termination, Jefferies analysts said in a note. The outcome could cause traders to question the company's research and development capabilities, the analysts said, adding that the recent evobrutinib failure compounds the discontinued study.

Based on the data, Merck also stopped another Phase 3 trial known as X-Ray Vision, which was testing xevinapant combined with radiotherapy in patients who had surgery for advanced head and neck cancer.

Write to David Sachs at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

06-25-24 0354ET