Back to top

Analyst Blog

Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK - Analyst Report) recently joined forces with Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) to conduct a phase II study with their hepatitis C virus (HCV) candidates. The study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of a once-daily oral combination of MK-5172 and daclatasvir for the treatment of chronic HCV.

The Candidates

Merck’s MK-5172 is an oral HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitor, which is being evaluated in combination with other approved and investigational medications in phase II studies.

Bristol-Myers’ daclatasvir (phase III) is an NS5A inhibitor, under evaluation for the treatment of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) based hepatitis C.

Terms of the Deal

Under this non-exclusive agreement, Merck will conduct the phase II study. Additional development activities beyond phase II are not covered in this agreement.

Our Take

We are positive on this deal which reflects the commitment of both companies towards developing new therapies for HCV. The HCV market represents immense commercial potential with more than 170 million HCV patients across the world. Currently, many large cap companies are developing drugs for the treatment of HCV.

The launch of Merck’s Victrelis and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s (VRTX - Analyst Report) Incivek changed the treatment paradigm of the HCV market. Victrelis, approved in 69 countries, posted worldwide sales of $502 million in 2012. Incivek posted sales of $1.16 billion in 2012.The development of an all-oral treatment regimen would be a major change in the HCV treatment paradigm.

Merck carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Currently, companies like Vertex Pharma, Cleveland BioLabs, Inc. and Transcept Pharmaceuticals, Inc. look more attractive. All three stocks carry a ZacksRank #1 (Strong Buy).

Please login to or register to post a comment.

New to Zacks?

Start Here

Zacks Investment Research


Are you a new Zacks Member or a visitor to

Top Zacks Features

My Portfolio Tracker

Is it Time to Sell?

One of the most important steps you can take today is to set up your portfolio tracker on Once you do, you'll be notified of major events affecting your stocks and/or funds with daily email alerts.

More Zacks Resources

Zacks Rank Home - Evaluate your stocks and use the Zacks Rank to eliminate the losers and keep the winners.

Mutual Fund Rank Home - Evaluate your funds with the Mutual Fund Rank for both your personal and retirement funds.

Stock/Mutual Fund Screening - Find better stocks and mutual funds. The ones most likely to beat the market and provide a positive return.

My Portfolio - Track your Portfolio and find out where your stocks/mutual funds stack up with the Zacks Rank.

Zacks #1 Rank Top Movers for Zacks #1 Rank Top Movers

Company Symbol Price %Chg
SIGNET JEWE… SIG 114.78 +6.24%
LANNETT COM… LCI 40.55 +3.13%
US SILICA H… SLCA 69.80 +2.65%
PLANAR SYST… PLNR 5.06 +2.43%
MALLINCKROD… MNK 79.61 +1.69%