The future of Favrille is up in the air after US biopharmaceutical firm announced that it is discontinuing development of its late-stage oncology agent Specifid.

The San Diego-based company said that it is pulling Specifid (mitumprotimut-T) after the treatment did not meet the primary endpoint in a Phase III trial of patients with follicular B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In the study, 349 patients with the disease who had been treated with Genentech's and Biogen Idec's Rituxan (rituximab) were randomised to receive either Specifid or placebo, in combination with Bayer’s Leukine (sargramostim).

The data failed to demonstrate that patients who received Specifid experienced a statistically significant improvement in time to progression compared with those who received placebo. The news led Favrille chief executive John Longenecker to state that “we are clearly disappointed with the data from this trial”.

He added that the company is “currently evaluating steps to conserve cash and recognise value on our assets” and analysts believe that the news spells the end of the road for the firm. Stockholders seem to think so and Favrille’s shares collapsed 87.4% to $0.22.