|Hepatitis C drug developers see shares rise after news of Roche acquisition|
|Tuesday, 18 October 2011 03:12|
Industry observers beleive the deal could mean greater competition for the two recently approved hepatitis C drugs, Vertex's (NASDAQ:VRTX) Incivek and Merck and Co.'s (NYSE:MRK) Victrelis. Food and Drug Administration regulators cleared both drugs for marketing in May and a report from the Associated Press indicates that analysts expect both companies to generate billions in sales from both drugs.
Hepatitis C is a viral disease that leads to swelling (inflammation) and damage to the liver. Most people who were recently infected with hepatitis C do not have symptoms and about 4 million Americans have the disease, and many are undiagnosed.
Roche's deal values Anadys at $3.70 per share, more than triple its Friday closing price of $1.04. The stock closed at $3.66 on Monday- rising 250% during regular trading session hours after trading 45,839,427 shares- about a 9000% increase above the average.
JMP Securities analyst Liisa Bayko sent a note to clients saying that she expects she expects more hepatitis drug developers to be acquired. "We anticipate more deal making in the hepatitis C virus space in 2012 as companies accrue longer-term safety data on the earlier stage assets in the pipeline," she wrote.
Also rising were shares of Achillion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ACHN) 5.89+0.07 (1.20%), Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc.(NASDAQ:IDIX) 5.15+0.01 (0.19%), and a stock we told our readers about last week: Inhibitex Inc. (NASDAQ:INHX) continued to force shorts to cover as it climbed closing at $3.63+0.43 (13.44%).
Inhibitex shares, which have been climbing during the past few sessions, broke past an important point of price resistance at the $3.35 level, and must now make it past $3.67 in order to match their 52-Wk High of $ 5.23.
Any number of these biotech firms could become an acquisition target for Big Pharma. Achillion is conducting human trials of three potential hepatitis C drugs and preclinical studies of a fourth. Its most advanced drug candidate, ACH-1625, is in mid-stage trials. Last month, Inhibitex announced that it had commenced dosing in a 90-patient randomized, placebo controlled, Phase 2 clinical trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability and antiviral activity of INX-189 in combination with pegylated interferon and ribavirin in chronic HCV-infected genotype 2 and 3 treatment naïve patients. Results are expected in sometime in the first quarter of 2012.
Achillion and Inhibitex do not have any products on the market, while Idenix already gets royalties on sales of the hepatitis C drug Tyzeka and is the largest of the four companies, with a market capitalization of about $500 million..