Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. (IDIX:US), a U.S. drugmaker that stopped development of two hepatitis C therapies this year, plunged the most in almost three years after regulators asked for more safety data on another experimental treatment.
Idenix dropped 31 percent to $3.55 at the close in New York, the biggest single-day decline since September 2010. Food and Drug Administration officials said they needed more safety information about IDX20963 for hepatitis C before allowing human clinical trials to begin, the Cambridge Massachusetts-based company said yesterday in a statement.
Idenix is among companies including AbbVie Inc. (ABBV:US) and Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD:US) seeking new medicines for the viral disease that attacks the liver and affects an estimated 170 million people worldwide. Analysts estimate the market for such new drugs is $20 billion. The request for more data is expected to delay the start of the clinical program for IDX20963, Idenix said.
“There is a lot more uncertainty right now in terms of when it’s going to Phase 1, if at all,” said Geoffrey Meacham, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst who today lowered the rating on the company to neutral from overweight. “I think it will, but it could be a delay of three months or more,” he said in a telephone interview.
Idenix in February stopped development of two experimental hepatitis C therapies after a drug in the same class of compounds from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. was linked to heart risks.
The company has declined 66 percent in the past 12 months.
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