InterMune soars on promising hep C trial

InterMune has announced positive results from a mid-stage study of danoprevir, a potential treatment for hepatitis C. The news sent the company's shares to their highest in eight years, according to Reuters. The study is comparing danoprevir administered for 12 weeks in combination with Pegasys (pegylated interferon alfa-2a) and Copegus (ribavirin) with placebo.

Results from the study showed that the drug delivered virologic response in 88 percent of patients treated with 300 mg dosage for 12 weeks; 89 percent of the patients showed virologic response in the 600 mg dosage arm. The study was conducted by Roche as part of its collaboration with InterMune for the development of protease inhibitors. And the results are good news for InterMune, which in November said it would discontinue testing in its 900 mg dose arm following elevated levels of ALT, an enzyme that indicates problems with the liver. The results reinforce the company's view "that danoprevir may potentially play a meaningful role in the treatment of HCV patients," says Dan Welch, chairman, CEO and president of InterMune.  

"After November, I had completely written the drug off, but with today's data they (InterMune) are back on the game," says analyst Brian Skorney of ThinkEquity LLC, as quoted by Reuters.

- see the InterMune press release
- check out the Reuters coverage