January 9, 2012 / 2:35 PM / in 6 years

Idenix soars on hepatitis C trial nod, Inhibitex deal

(Reuters) - Idenix Pharmaceuticals IDIX.O said an independent data safety panel gave the go ahead for its hepatitis C drug trial, two days after Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMY.N) $2.5 billion deal to buy peer Inhibitex Inc INHX.O renewed investor interest in the hepatitis C market.

Shares of Idenix jumped 42 percent in premarket trade on Monday, after the panel recommended the continuation of a drug trial that had been put on partial hold by U.S. regulators.

On Saturday, Bristol agreed to pay a hefty 163 percent premium for Inhibitex, less than two months after Gilead Sciences’ (GILD.O) agreed to an 89 percent premium in its $11 billion deal to buy Pharmasset VRUS.O.

Shares of another hepatitis C drug developer Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACHN.O) also rose 22 percent before the bell.

Idenix said interim data from a 28-day trial of 31 patients showed its drug, IDX184, was well tolerated and had no serious adverse events.

The company said it submitted the data, along with recommendations of the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB), to the U.S. FDA and sought the removal of the partial clinical hold for IDX184.

In September 2010, IDX184 and its combination IDX320 were put on hold after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration raised concerns about liver function abnormality associated with the drug-drug interactive study.

In February last year, the regulator put IDX184 on partial hold, and Idenix discontinued IDX320.

Shares of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Idenix rose 42 percent to $10.01 before the bell. They closed at $7.05 on Friday on the Nasdaq.

Reporting by Shailesh Kuber and Esha Dey in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

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