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Biotech Stock Roundup: Gilead, AbbVie Score at Liver Meeting, Dendreon Files for Bankruptcy

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With third quarter earnings season drawing to a close, the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases or the Liver Meeting was a key focus area last week with several companies presenting data on their hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatments at the meeting.

Meanwhile, Dendreon has filed for bankruptcy and Amgen (AMGN - Free Report) and Regeneron (REGN - Free Report) continue to impress with data on pipeline candidates.

Recap of the Week’s Most Important Stories

1. With its HCV combination treatment approaching FDA approval, potentially by year end, AbbVie (ABBV - Free Report) continues to present positive data on the cocktail treatment. At the recently held Liver Meeting, AbbVie presented data showing that the cocktail therapy treated 97.1% of liver transplant patients who had recurrent chronic GT1 HCV infection and were new to treatment after transplantation.

Meanwhile, sustained virologic response rate at 12 weeks post-treatment (SVR12) was 93.5% and 90.6% at 24 weeks in HCV patients co-infected with HIV. Moreover, there was data from another study conducted in genotype 4 patients who were new to therapy or who had failed previous treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin – all patients in the study achieved SVR12.

AbbVie’s treatment, once approved, will enter the highly lucrative HCV market that is currently dominated by Gilead’s (GILD - Free Report) Sovaldi which has raked in multi-billion dollar sales for the company. Gilead’s HCV product portfolio now includes Harvoni (a once-daily single tablet regimen comprising ledipasvir and Sovaldi) as well. Gilead also had a strong presence at the Liver Meeting where it presented positive data on both Sovaldi and Harvoni.

Another company that came out with impressive data is Achillion (ACHN - Free Report) – shares were up more than 27% with the company presenting data from an ongoing mid-stage study on ACH-3102 (Read more: Achillion Jumps on Encouraging Data on its HCV Candidate). 

2. Regeneron and partner Sanofi are moving their experimental asthma treatment, dupilumab, into late-stage development based on encouraging positive interim data from a mid-stage study. The three highest doses of the experimental drug that were evaluated in the study met the primary endpoint. Moreover, two doses were found to be effective in a subset of patients as well as in the overall study population.

3. The FDA has set a target date for Amgen’s PCSK9 inhibitor – evolocumab. Amgen, which is looking to get evolocumab approved for the treatment of high cholesterol, will receive a response on evolocumab’s approval status by Aug 27, 2015. Amgen had another set of promising news on the pipeline front with experimental psoriasis treatment, brodalumab, faring better than Johnson & Johnson’s Stelara in a pivotal head-to-head study. Brodalumab is one of the most interesting candidates in Amgen and partner, AstraZeneca’s pipeline – earlier this year, AstraZeneca had announced that analyst estimates for non-risk adjusted peak year sales potential of brodalumab are in the range of $0.5 billion - $1.5 billion.

4. In a not so surprising move, Dendreon has filed for bankruptcy. The company has been struggling for quite some time with the performance of its sole product, Provenge, never really meeting expectations. The company tried several options earlier including streamlining of operations and layoffs. However, the company’s debt levels remain high (Read more: Dendreon Shares Plummet After It Files for Bankruptcy).

5. Intercept’s shares were down 30.1% on concerns regarding side effects associated with its lead pipeline candidate, obeticholic acid (OCA) which is being developed for the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The company’s third quarter loss was also wider than expected (Read more: Intercept Pharmaceuticals' Shares Crash on FLINT Results)


Last week, Regeneron was the biggest gainer among the major biotechs with share price increasing 6.97%. Meanwhile, Gilead lost the most last week (down 1.56%).

Vertex (VRTX - Free Report) recorded the highest gain (73.44%) among major biotechs over the last six months.

Overall, the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index was up 0.87% over the last five trading days (See the last biotech stock roundup here: Regeneron's Eylea Stumbles, Geron Up on Lifting of Clinical Hold).

Company Last Week Last 6 Months
AMGN 1.64% 47.43%
BIIB 0.79% 8.00%
GILD -1.56% 34.42%
CELG 1.99% 47.07%
REGN 6.97% 36.71%
ALXN 1.89% 20.99%
VRTX 2.97% 73.44%

What's Next in the Biotech World?

With just a handful of biotech companies left to report third quarter results, stay tuned for the usual pipeline and regulatory updates.

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