Add a new set of pricing foes for Gilead Sciences). A U.S. Senate committee has joined the forces arrayed against the company's breakthrough hepatitis C drug Sovaldi and its $84,000 price tag.
Bristol-Myers Squibb has become the first drugmaker to win regulatory approval for a combination hepatitis C treatment that doesn't require painful injections, picking up a Japanese nod for its all-oral cocktail.
European regulators are recommending approval for Bristol-Myers Squibb's daclatasvir, an hepatitis C-fighting antiviral that plays a key role in the company's planned combo treatment.
Gilead Sciences' Sovaldi has broken sales records thanks to its ability to cure hepatitis C with an effective, if costly, 12-week regimen. But rivals believe there's plenty of room in the market for a speedier solution, and Bristol-Myers Squibb plans to use its ex-partner's blockbuster to craft a four-week contender.
Fresh off signing a blockbuster deal for hepatitis C drug developer Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Merck R&D chief Roger Perlmutter said his company won't shy away from buying big into biotech, provided there are promising medicines at stake.
Few biotechs loved to flirt with investors about the prospect of a buyout more than the hepatitis C specialist Achillion. Former CEO Michael Kishbauch made a habit of it. And not long after Milind Deshpande took the helm last fall, he quickly reignited talk of a sale, only to watch the stock tank days later when the FDA put its NS3/4A protease inhibitor, sovaprevir, on clinical hold.
Proof-of-concept data for Idenix's lead hepatitis C nucleotide helped drive a competitive bidding process that included AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson and resulted in the $3.85 billion price tag for the buyout. And Merck may get more than pipeline help from the deal--it could also get a leg up in an ongoing IP battle with HCV leader Gilead Sciences.
Sovaldi's runaway success looms large over Merck's decision to ante up $3.8 billion to buy Idenix Pharmaceuticals, which has three hepatitis C drugs in early stage development. Gilead's hep C drug has given an early peek at just how large the market is and how extensive it will be for years to come, an opportunity Merck hopes to exploit by acquiring more hep C firepower.
Almost a year after it promised to go on a shopping spree for new experimental drugs, Merck has come up with a $3.85 billion cash deal to buy out Idenix, a biotech company best known for its setbacks in hepatitis C drug research.
AbbVie is awaiting the decisions of regulators for its closely followed new interferon-free, oral hepatitis C drug that will go head-to-head with Sovaldi. And it has lined up its production horses so that it will be ready to blast out of the gates if approvals are granted in the U.S. and Europe.