Idenix gets good news on hep C trial, but can't compete with Gilead

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Idenix put out the news this morning that the FDA had lifted a partial hold on its hepatitis C drug IDX184--and then watched its share price slide.

In a sign of just how volatile the whole hepatitis C arena has become after back-to-back blockbuster buyouts, the key focus today is on Gilead's ($GILD) surprise acknowledgement that its new hep C favorite scored promising numbers for the genotype 1 patient population. Indenix ($IDIX) and Achillion ($ACHN)--the other biotech most frequently mentioned as a likely takeover target--suffered from the comparison.

"After review of the interim safety and antiviral activity results from the IDX184 phase IIb clinical trial, the FDA removed the partial clinical hold and has allowed us to continue enrollment of this study," says Idenix CEO Ron Renaud. "Importantly, this allows us to expand the phase IIb program and evaluate IDX184 in interferon-free combination regimens with other direct-acting antivirals. We are working toward beginning all-oral combination trials as quickly as possible."

Expanded trial, all oral, interferon-free--all good things in the hepatitis C world. As MarketWatch noted a couple of days ago, investors have been bidding up shares of Idenix and Achillion in the hope that they can profit from some other premium buyout. William Blair analyst Katherine Xu told the wire service that any Idenix buyout would likely be put on hold until after that pesky partial hold was lifted. But for a few hours anyway, Idenix's good news can't compete with promising data from Gilead.

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