Novartis will not license IDIX's leading drug candidate Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Friday, 30 October 2009 07:17
Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: IDIX), a biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of drugs for the treatment of human viral diseases got some bad news when the company was informed that Novartis AG will not move ahead with optioning a license to their potential hepatitis C drug.

The move means Idenix holds on to worldwide rights for IDX-184, the company's lead drug candidate.

"As we continue to develop IDX184, we look forward to seeking a partner that will assist us in maximizing the value of this asset," said Idenix Chairman and CEO Jean-Pierre Sommadossi in a statement late Thursday.

Analysts had expected Novartis to exercise its option to move the drug further in development, following a positive "proof-of-concept" study several months ago.

On Friday morning, Idenix announced presentations of data on IDX184, a once-daily novel liver-targeted nucleotide prodrug of 2'-methyl guanosine (2'MeG) for the treatment of HCV, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) currently being held in Boston, Massachusetts.

"With favorable safety data and good antiviral activity for IDX184 in HCV patients, these early results are encouraging," said Dr. Jacob Lalezari, principal investigator in the study, Director of Quest Clinical Research and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF/Mount Zion Hospital. "Nucleotides may become an essential component of future STAT-C combinations for the treatment of hepatitis C. IDX184 has shown a promising early profile and should be evaluated in longer-term, combination trials."

Results will also be presented from in vitro studies evaluating the combination of IDX184 with other direct-acting antivirals or standard-of-care agents, interferon and ribavirin. These in vitro studies suggest that when IDX184 is combined with compounds from different classes, the antiviral activity may be enhanced, and in some combinations, synergistic. Specifically, the triple combination of IDX184, interferon and ribavirin showed strong synergy in vitro. These in vitro studies also suggest that the combination of IDX184 with other compounds from different classes may suppress the emergence of resistance.

"The in vitro combination data for IDX184 are promising," said David Standring, executive vice president of biology for Idenix. "We look forward to assessing this potential synergy in the next clinical study evaluating IDX184 in combination with pegylated interferon and ribavirin in HCV genotype 1-infected patients."

After the market closed Thursday, Idenix said its third-quarter loss narrowed as revenue from partnerships rose and costs fell. The company said it lost $11.7 million, or 18 cents per share, in the July-September period compared with a loss of $16.9 million, or 30 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 45 percent to $3.1 million from $2.1 million.

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