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Gilead Climbs on Study Results of Hepatitis C Combo Treatment

Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Gilead Sciences Inc. rose after a combination of its experimental hepatitis C therapies cleared the virus in 100 percent of patients in a trial.

Gilead gained 9.8 percent to $71.36 at 8:02 a.m. New York time, after climbing to $71.86. The Foster City, California- based drugmaker presented results from its clinical trials this weekend at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases meeting in Boston.

Gilead, the world’s largest maker of HIV medicines, is among several drugmakers racing to develop new hepatitis C treatments that act faster with fewer side effects than the current standard of care.

“This is starting to look like a home-run as we now know GILD at least has a 100 percent cure all-oral regimen with its own wholly owned drug with no partnering,” Michael Yee, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in San Francisco, wrote in a note to clients today.

Gilead, which spent $10.8 billion to acquire one of the medicines, GS-7977, known as sofosbuvir, combined it with GS- 5885 as well as the antiviral ribavirin and gave it to 25 patients for 12 weeks. All of the patients, who hadn’t received previous treatments, had undetectable levels of the virus four weeks after they stopped taking the therapies, the company said in a statement. Gilead has begun testing the combination without ribavirin in the third of three trials typically required for U.S. regulatory approval.

Key Data

“This was the key datapoint that the Street was waiting for,” Mark Schoenebaum, an analyst with ISI Group in New York, wrote in a note to clients.

Gilead is competing with Abbott Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co. and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. to develop a new generation of hepatitis C treatments. Rising deaths among baby boomers from the disease prompted U.S. health officials to declare in May that the entire age group is at risk and should be tested.

Gilead’s combo requires fewer pills than Abbott’s, “a clear disadvantage” for Abbott, M. Ian Somaiya, an analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co. in New York wrote in a note to clients today.

Conventional therapy combines ribavirin with interferon, an injected immune-boosting protein that can cause flu-like side effects, for as long as 48 weeks.

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