Pharmasset: A Breakout Year But Big Catalysts Lie Ahead
Although only half over, 2011 already has been pivotal for hepatitis C drug development, with the launch of two paradigm-shifting protease inhibitors, Johnson & Johnson/Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s Incivek (telaprevir) and Merck & Co.'s Victrelis (boceprevir). Both hit the market in May, even as attention is now shifting to the next big advance in HCV. Based on its work on next-gen HCV treatment, Pharmasset, Inc. has captivated the investment community.
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All eyes are on Gilead Sciences following the news it may not continue development of GS-7977 alongside Bristol-Myers Squibb’s daclatasvir, though the all-oral pairing produced impressive data in Phase II.
The planned purchase price of $11 billion, or $137 a share, an 89% premium over Pharmasset’s closing price on Nov. 18, is by far the highest ever paid for a clinical-stage biotech.
Phase II ELECTRON study yielded 100% cure rate across all arms, including interferon-sparing and interferon-free regimens.