Hepatitis C-related stocks rally on BioLineRX deal Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Tuesday, 24 January 2012 11:53
FDA CalendarAchillion Pharmaceuticals and other Hepatitis C-related stocks rallied strongly after Israel-based BioLineRX announced a major development deal this morning.

The publicly traded BioLineRx (NASDAQ: BLRX), announced a worldwide, exclusive license agreement with Genoscience, a French company focused on viral disease therapeutics, to develop and commercialize BL-8020, an orally available treatment for Hepatitis C.

BL-8020 has been developed for anti-viral therapy by Professor Philippe Halfon, Co-Founder and President of Genoscience. Prof. Halfon is a founder of several biotechnology companies and is world renowned for his work on HIV (AIDS virus), HPV (human papilloma virus causing cervical cancer) and Hepatitis.

Dr. Kinneret Savitsky, CEO of BioLineRx said, "We are excited about entering the field of Hepatitis C therapeutics, which is a very important field in the pharmaceutical market today.  The current global Hepatitis market is estimated at approximately $6.5 billion and is growing steadily. Current therapies are characterized by numerous severe side effects, long treatment duration and development of resistance. In these respects, BL-8020 has a demonstrated safety and efficacy profile, may shorten therapy duration and may combat resistance by acting as an add-on platform which can potentially be combined with other oral Hepatitis C therapies to increase their efficacy.”

After the news, shares of Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.(NASDAQ:ACHN) rose to $10.77 and led all stocks in the healthcare sector. For the previous five sessions, shares of the biopharmaceutical company whose product portfolio includes four clinical candidates for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C infection had been trading down-- losing 28.88% of their value after reaching a 52-Wk High of $12.95.

Last week,reports pointed out that the firm looked over valued and that Achillion was at a disadvantage to its competitors because none of its HCV drug candidates were nucleosides. Prior to those reports, Achillion had gone from $7.92 to $12.95, for a 64% gain following heavy M&A action in the Hepatitis C space.

Shares of Idenix Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:IDIX) rose over 5% to $14.46. Volume and trading activity for Idenix shares had begun to dry up, but shares are still trading over 400% higher than their 52-Wk Low of $ 2.67 per share. Idenix shares closed Monday's session down 2% to $13.81-- roughly 9% lower than their recent 52-Wk High ($ 15.25).

Interestingly, 58.20% of Achillion's shares are owned by institutions, while Idenix shows a 44.10% institutional ownership mark.

Achillion Pharmaceuticals' research and development is focused on three main categories which include antivirals, antibacterials (often referred to as antibiotics) and antifungals. Meanwhile, Idenix has a more robust pipeline focused on agents for advance treatment of hepatitis C. The company has an ongoing HCV development and discovery program building a critical mass of candidates in three different classes of drugs, including: nucleoside polymerase inhibitors, non-nucleoside polymerase inhibitors and protease inhibitors.

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