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Biotech Update: Pharmasset’s Hepatitis C Drug Shows 100% Cure Rate in Ph2 Trial

Posted
11/9/2011 8:18:00 PM
By: Kapitall
Referenced Stocks:ABT;ACHN;INHX;MRK;VRTX;VRUS

(By Alexander Crawford)

The landscape of treatment options for hepatitis C is looking brighter – biotech company Pharmasset Inc (VRUS) just released clinical results showing that their experimental drug cured all 40 patients of hepatitis C in a Phase II trial. The company plans to move into the final third phase, with two studies involving 500 and 225 patients each.

This follows two new hepatitis C drugs hitting the market this year – Merck’s (MRK) Victrelis and Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ (VRTX) Incivek. According to Bizmology, neither have as high of a cure rate as Pharmasset’s demonstrated 100% success.

The drug (called PSI-7977) is being studied in Phase III without the common combination with interferon, making it an injection-free treatment possibly with fewer side effects.

Bizmology also reports that other hepatitis C therapies are currently being developed by Inhibitex (INHX), Achillion (ACHN), Roche, and Abbott Labs (ABT), but none of these drugs including PSI-7977 will hit the market until at least 2013.

“Although patient numbers are small, we believe the results are extremely impressive,” Brian Abrahams of Wells Fargo Securities wrote with regard to Pharmasset’s report (via Bloomberg).

How do you think these other contenders will be affected by the promising results of PSI-7977?

For a closer look at the companies involved in therapies for hepatitis C, we list them below. 

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List sorted alphabetically.

1. Abbott Laboratories (ABT): Engages in the discovery, development, manufacture, and sale of health care products worldwide. Market cap of $83.48B.

2. Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ACHN): Engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of treatments for infectious diseases. Market cap of $422.50M.

3. Inhibitex, Inc. (INHX): Focuses on the development of differentiated anti-infective products to prevent or treat serious infections, primarily shingles and chronic infections caused by hepatitis C virus (HCV). Market cap of $760.01M.

4. Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK): Provides various health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products. Market cap of $105.73B.

5. Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (VRTX): Engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of small molecule drugs for the treatment of serious diseases worldwide. Market cap of $6.93B.

6. Pharmasset, Inc. (VRUS): Focuses on discovering, developing, and commercializing novel drugs to treat viral infections. Market cap of $5.45B.