By Ben Fox Rubin
Biopharmaceutical firm Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. (IDIX) has provided some results from an ongoing Phase 2b study of its lead hepatitis C drug, IDX184, showing positive suppression of the virus.
Shares jumped 15% after hours Tuesday to $10.79, as the company's stock often moves sharply following reports related to its or its competitors' hepatitis C drugs. As of the market close, the shares were up 26% so far this year.
Idenix is among a handful of companies scrabbling to develop a marketable all-oral Hepatitis C drug, with demand for the treatment expected to be worth billions of dollars a year. Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) is a main competitor of Idenix in the race develop such a drug; it spent $11 billion to buy Pharmasset this year, in part to obtain its lead hepatitis C drug candidate, GS-7977.
In the Idenix study, Idenix used a mix of its IDX184 with older medications interferon and ribavirin. In all, 31 patients were enrolled and 18 reached extended rapid virologic response, which is when the virus becomes undetectable at four weeks of treatment and again at 12 weeks of treatment.
Of those 18 patients, nine were given additional treatments for 12 more weeks. All but one of them achieved sustained virologic response, or undetectable traces of the virus, a month after treatment ended.
The other nine patients and those who didn't reach extended rapid virologic response are continuing a regimen of 36 weeks of treatment.
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