$11B bet on Pharmasset acquisition for Hepatitus -C drug hits a snag
Gilead announced that a majority (6/8) of the hepatitis C genotype-1 patients experienced a viral relapse when treated with GS-7977 Plus Ribavirin. Additional data will be forthcoming by the end of Q1 and Q2. Some analysts saw the stock drop as buying opportunity-11 had strong buys and 12 had buys prior to the news.Companies developing competing Hep-C drugs rallied: Achillion (ACHN $10.81) up 23%, Idenix (IDIX $11.81) up 3%, and Vertex (VRTX $39.88) up 6.4%. All of these stocks have been extremely volatile and peaked in Jan/Feb Q1 when Gilead closed the Pharmasset (VRUS) deal. Gilead is a leader in HIV therapy with 14 products and over $8B in sales.
Vertex is the long time player in Hep-C and was hit the hardest by the Pharamasset data and deal; the stock peaked at $58.87 in May 2011. Vertex, with a market cap in the $8B range, a decent pipeline and strong cash position the stock now looks relatively attractive.
There was some collateral damage on the news with the IBB (119.57) down 1.6% on above average volume. The Rayno Biopharma focus stocks were mainly in the red with the exception of Targacept (TRGT $7.22) up 3.5% and Viropharma (VPHM $32.39) up 0.25%.