Genzyme's bad year gets worse: Experimental kidney drug a no-go


For Genzyme Corp (GENZ), this year seems to have been plagued with one piece of bad news after another. On Wednesday, the biotechnology company announced that it was dropping development of its experimental kidney disease drug after it failed to show significant improvement over the company's existing drug, Renvela.

Genzyme's first major setback this year came in the second quarter, when it had to temporarily shut down its Allston Landing, Mass., plant after viral contamination was discovered. The plant manufactures Cerezyme -- Genzyme's top-selling drug -- and Fabrazyme, a treatment for Fabry disease. Cerezyme treats Gaucher disease, a rare genetic disorder that can cause life-threatening organ damage, and the plant closure sparked fears of a shortage of the drug. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration consequently approved emergency use for two rival drugs from Protalix BioTherapeutics (PLX) and Shire (SHPGY).