Berna Drops Nasalflu Spray Linked to Facial Paralysis
Switzerland's Berna Biotech announced that it has ended its development of Nasalflu, an experimental inhaled influenza vaccine that has been linked with Bell's palsy, an illness that causes temporary facial paralysis. The company will halt its trial of some 11,000 patients after reviewing data collected from 4,000 of them, a move that is a tremendous blow to the firm. Not only will Berna miss out on continued development aid from Aventis, its partner in the Nasalflu venture, but Berna had billed itself as the company developing Nasalflu, so it will have to revamp its marketing strategies as well. Berna shares fell 16 percent to 24.4 Swiss francs, its biggest drop since listing publicly in June 2001, though its profit will not be impacted for 2002 because sales of the vaccine were small.