News on Wellness

Idenix Share Skyrockets After Merck Agrees To Buy It for $3.85 Billion


Hepatitis C drugs maker, Idenix Pharmaceuticals’ stock skyrocketed more than three times during Monday’s trading session making the stock one of the top performers. The rise was largely associated to Merck’s agreeing to buy Idenix for $ 3.85 billion.


Merck is currently developing a blend of protease NS5A inhibitor MK-8742 and inhibitor MK-5172 for treating chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV). It has already cleared phase III trials and now is embarking on phase III trial series.

The deal adds NS5A inhibitor and nuke IDX21437 which Merck will use to bridge a gap with in its HCV portfolio together with two of its lead compounds.

Gilead Sciences’ Sovaldi was the first nuke to hit U.S. market a move that saw its share grow exponentially to reach $ 2.4 billion in the first 3 months of this year. The growth has also been accelerated by a pent-up demand and its high cost of $ 84,000.

Idenix says its product has high tolerability and is free from genetic toxicology, some of the issues that were raised with other nuke-class drugs which also lead to discontinuation of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s BMS-986094 in 2012.

It is likely that Nukes will lead to development of new oral drugs for treatment of HCV, a move away from the current therapy treatment. Merck, Johnson & Johnson and AbbVie, Gilead and BMS are developing regimens that will bring down therapy duration to less than three months and hopefully to just eight weeks.

Roger Perlmutter, Merck’s R&D chief, Idenix’s candidate for hepatitis C compliments Merck’s promising therapies that are being developed.  Acquisition of Idenix will help Merck develop “highly effective, once-daily, all oral, ribavirin-free, pan-genotypic regimens” that will have a shorter treatment period to benefit millions of people in need around the planet.

More than 150 million people are infected with HCV and the size of the market could be worth more than $200 billion.

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