In the world of biotech stocks a lot of companies are starting to incorporate Hepatitis C treatments into their pipelines. Hepatitis C is starting to garner a lot of attention, and these biotech companies are not wrong to be chasing this target disease. Why, you ask? Because there are currently 170 million people worldwide infected with Hep C, and this could mean huge opportunity for biotech companies that are in this field. Hep C is a terrible disease because it causes the liver to become scarred in a process known as Cirrhosis. About 3% to 5% of Hep C patients can get liver cancer from Hepatitis C, and this disease occurs from unscreened blood transfusions or syringes that have not been sterilized correctly. The current options out there for treatment are a deadly cocktail of drugs known as interferon and Ribvavirn, which have a lot of toxicity. Thus patients need all the help they can get for Hepatitis C infections.
BMY dealt a huge shocking blow
In August of 2012 Bristol Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE:BMY) had some serious trouble in the Hep C, space as one of their mid-stage trials for BMS-986094 was stopped when one of their patients suffered heart failure. There was no direct link , but the FDA had to stop the trial and investigate whether or not this drug was safe for patients to continue taking. This was unfortunate for Bristol-Meyers, as they had previously in the year purchased Inhbitex, which was the company that worked on the Hep C drug “BMS-986094.” Bristol-Meyers had to dish out $2.5 billion dollars to buy out Inhibitex in the race to beat everyone else to the Hepatitis C space, and now they are left out in the cold with this setback.
Another 2 Companies take a bite of dust?
So Bristol-Meyers stopped it’s investigational drug for Hepatitis C for now, and thus the race for this huge market space continued–or did it? Well things didn’t go so well for Idenix Pharmacueticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:IDIX) and Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD), as the FDA had to place a hold on Idix’s and Gilead’s drugs. Both of these companies use a drug to treat the Hepatitis C virus that have nucleoside inhibitors. These drugs that used nucleoside inhibitors were put on hold to be investigated for heart failure in patients. Also recently on Feb. 5 Idix announced that it would stop development of IDX184 and IDX19368, which lowers the amount of drugs this company currently has in its pipeline. It has two Hepatitis C antiviral drugs that are in preclinical stages, and one drug in phase 2 trials. This drug currently in phase 2 is named “IDX719,” and Idenix hopes that it’s stock price can go back up in value with this drug. Will this Hep C drug in production by Idenix be the last hope for the struggling company? That remains to be seen, but one thing for sure is that this company is now a bigger risk to play for in the Hepatitis C space because of it’s diminishing pipeline.