AstraZeneca has suffered another clinical disappointment following the news that a late-stage trial by partner MAP Pharmaceuticals looking at a potential asthma treatment for children has fallen by the wayside.

MAP has announced that its initial Phase III clinical trial of unit dose budesonide, the active ingredient found in the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker’s Pulmicort, (UDB) for the potential treatment of children with asthma did not meet its co-primary endpoints. These were asthma control as assessed by changes from baseline in night-time and daytime composite symptom scores, in either of the doses evaluated when compared with placebo. However, MAP noted that there were no adverse events linked with the drug.

AstraZeneca says it will now work with MAP “to conduct further analyses of these data to determine appropriate next steps for the programme”. This is a big blow to the collaboration which was announced in December and saw MAP receive an upfront payment of $40 million.

The California-based firm was also due to bank another $35 million if the drug had successfully achieved the primary endpoint and safety results of the Phase III study. That cash boost appears to have gone down the drain and MAP shares sank 40% in after-hours trading.

There was better news for AstraZeneca, however, as it launched the extended-release version of Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate) in the USA as a treatment for bipolar disorder. Seroquel XR will be sold as a treatment for depressive, manic and mixed episodes of bipolar I disorder, as well as schizophrenia in adults, and acute schizophrenic episodes. It can also be marketed in combination with lithium and divalproex.