A chronic disease still awaiting a drug

Pharmaceutical companies have developed treatments for some of the rarest diseases that affect a tiny percentage of the population, but they have repeatedly failed to bring a drug to market for a chronic and increasingly common condition.

As biotech companies take new hits for the liver disease known as NASH, or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, investors are understandably reluctant after being repeatedly burned. Take Intercept pharmaceuticals which, at the height of the Wall Street craze for NASH treatments, fetched as much as $462 a share. The stock has since plunged, now trading at just over $17, wiping out $6 billion in market value. The biotech drug for NASH was rejected by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2020 due to safety concerns, but Intercept is trying again. Companies including Gilead Sciences, Genfit and NGM Biopharma are among the many others who suffered setbacks.


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