Analysts pounce on positive Phase II data on hep C combo

Promising hepatitis C data continues to be one of the hottest products in biotech, as we saw this morning after Jefferies analyst Thomas Wei posted some positive results from an all-oral combo of Gilead Sciences' ($GILD) 7977 and Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) daclatasvir (BMS-52). Among the genotype 1 patients enrolled in the Phase II trial, 97% had no detectable levels of the hepatitis C virus after 12 weeks of treatment. And in genotype 2/3 patients 90% of patients achieved the same virus-free status.

TheStreet's Adam Feuerstein--a careful student of all things hep C related--was the first to pick up on the Jefferies report, noting that Wei had concluded that the data was "positive" and "encouraging." The data had been embargoed for the big European Association for the Study of the Liver annual meeting but Jefferies swooped in when they found that the data had been briefly posted on the EASL website over the weekend.

"As a reminder, key data in April at the EASL meeting will be the 4-week sustained virologic response (SVR4) data for GS7977 in G1 treatment-naïve patients in the ELECTRON study, further data from the Phase 2 study of DCV+7977, and early data for GILD's own NS5a inhibitor 5885+7977," noted Jefferies. "While the key efficacy endpoint to watch remains the post-treatment SVR (sustained-response) rates, we are encouraged that a two-drug oral regimen of GILD's 7977+ BMY's DCV showed high 12-week responses in treatment-naives. Given the high relapse rate previously observed with 7977-rbv in G1 null responders, it remains to be seen whether the 7977+NS5a regimen can achieve attractive SVR rates in G1 patients, particularly in G1a patients."

The race to obtain positive hep C data for all-oral--and interferon-free--treatments has consumed a lineup of some of the most prominent biopharma companies in the industry. The right cocktail will be able to compete for a large and growing hepatitis C market, where a large portion of patients would celebrate a new arrival that promises a sustained cure.

- here's the story from TheStreet