(Adds details, analysts' comments on data, share movement)
Aug 15 Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc
said all patients treated with its experimental hepatitis C drug
showed no detectable levels of the virus four weeks after the
therapy, sending its shares up 18 percent.
The mid-stage trial tested Achillion's drug, ACH-3102, in 12
patients in combination with Gilead Sciences Inc's
Sovaldi, also known as sofosbuvir.
Achievement of 100 percent cure rate confirms the
competitive profile of NS5A, Wells Fargo Securities analyst
Brian Abrahams wrote in a note.
ACH-3102 belongs to a promising new class of drugs that work
by blocking the NS5A protein needed by the virus to replicate.
Achillion is also working on a different class of drugs
known as nucleotide inhibitor, or "nuc", and which has been the
focus of investors' attention.
"This class of drug (ACH-3102) is not as unique an asset as
ACH-3422, that's the nuc. If they have positive data, then they
are going to have a very high likelihood of takeout just like
Idenix," FBR Capital Markets & Co analyst Andrew Berens told
Merck & Co Inc agreed in June to buy Idenix
Pharmaceuticals Inc for $3.85 billion to boost its hepatitis c
drugs portfolio. Gilead paid $11 billion in cash to buy biotech
company Pharmasset for Sovaldi.
Gilead said on Friday an arbitration panel ruled in its
favor, rejecting patent infringement claims from Roche Holding
AG related to Sovaldi.
Achillion is expected to report data from an early-stage
trial of ACH-3422 at the end of this year.
Nucs, which comprise the backbone of current hepatitis C
treatment, work by blocking a protein needed by the hepatitis C
virus to replicate.
Hepatitis C drugs have a history of being expensive, largely
because some 170 million people worldwide have the often-fatal
liver disease and do not have good treatment options.
Sovaldi costs $84,000 for 12 weeks of treatment.
Achillion said it would begin treating 12 additional
patients for six weeks with a once-daily dose of ACH-3102 and
The trial excluded the older hepatitis C drug ribavirin,
which can cause rashes, anemia and other side-effects.
Achillion shares gave up most of their early gains and were
up 8 percent at $9.13 on Friday morning on the Nasdaq. The stock
touched an 18-month high of $9.94.
About 12 million shares changed hands by 11:00 a.m. ET, more
than four times their 10-day average volume.
(Reporting by Anand Basu in Bangalore; Editing by Simon