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AbbVie’s (ABBV - Analyst Report) efforts to acquire Ireland-based Shire (SHPG - Analyst Report) remained the highlight last week. Meanwhile, Gilead Sciences Inc.’s (GILD - Analyst Report) hepatitis C drug made it to the news yet again thanks to its price tag. Apart from this, companies like Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT - Analyst Report), Celgene Corp. (CELG - Analyst Report) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN - Analyst Report) made it to the headlines on pipeline updates.

Overall, it was a mixed week for the biotech sector with the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index declining 0.54% (See the last biotech stock roundup here: Regado Plunges on Study Update, Jazz Gains on Product Acquisition Deal).

Recap of the Week’s Most Important Stories

1. AbbVie, which has been looking to acquire Shire for a while now, came back with a fourth proposal last week. This time around, it looks like a deal can materialize with Shire indicating its willingness to recommend the offer to its shareholders provided certain other terms are resolved. If the acquisition goes through, AbbVie will join a string of U.S. health care companies that have been looking towards overseas acquisitions to lower their tax rates (Read more: Shire Meets AbbVie for Acquisition Deal).

2. Sarepta, which focuses on the discovery and development of RNA-based therapeutics for rare and infectious diseases, saw its shares tumbling on 144-week data on its experimental Duchenne muscular dystrophy treatment, eteplirsen. Investors were disappointed with the 144-week data on decline in walking distance which was considered to be weaker than the 120-week data presented earlier this year. Despite this, Sarepta remains committed to file for regulatory approval in the U.S. by year end (Read more: Sarepta Plunges on Eteplirsen Study Results).

3. Celgene’s Otezla failed to meet the primary endpoint in a phase III study evaluating the drug for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis. Although disappointing, shares were not affected as expectations for this indication were already low. Otezla is currently approved for the treatment of active psoriatic arthritis (Read more: Celgene's Otezla Disappoints in Ankylosing Spondylitis Study).

4. Regeneron, which has seen spectacular success with its eye drug – Eylea, may well have a blockbuster candidate in its pipeline – dupilumab. The company and its partner, Sanofi, presented impressive phase IIb data on the experimental eczema treatment. Dupilumab is slated to move into phase III studies later this year (Read more: Sanofi/Regeneron Announce Encouraging Dupilumab Data).

5. Gilead’s HCV treatment, Sovaldi, was back in the news as once again questions regarding its hefty price tag were raised. The last time questions were raised about Sovaldi’s pricing, the biotech sector went through a major sell-off. The U.S. Senate has asked Gilead to provide it with information on Sovaldi as well as the Pharmasset acquisition. Sovaldi became a part of Gilead’s portfolio following its acquisition of Pharmasset (Read more: Hefty Price Tag of Gilead's Sovaldi Questioned Again).

Performance

Last week, Gilead led the major biotechs with its price increasing 2.17%. Amgen was the biggest loser with shares declining 2.58%, followed by Biogen (down 1.76%). Vertex (VRTX - Analyst Report) remains the biggest gainer over the last six months (up 22.55%) thanks to the impact of the pivotal phase III data on the Kalydeco-lumacaftor combination.

Company Last Week Last 6 Months
AMGN -2.58% -0.35%
BIIB -1.76% 5.15%
GILD 2.17% 18.30%
CELG 1.24% 4.96%
REGN 0.52% 8.58%
ALXN 0.78% 17.00%
VRTX 1.57% 22.55%

What’s Next in the Biotech World?

While nothing specific is lined up later this week, stay tuned for the usual pipeline and regulatory updates. Earnings updates should also start trickling in over the next few days. Moreover, there should be some update later this week on the AbbVie-Shire situation.

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