Intercell Says Data on Vaccine Against Common Hospital Bug May Be Delayed

Intercell AG fell the most in two weeks in Vienna trading after saying early data on whether its vaccine against a deadly hospital bug works may be delayed to the first or second quarter of 2011.

Intercell declined 60 cents, or 3.4 percent, to close at 17.06 euros, the biggest drop since June 4.

“The study is being conducted by Merck & Co., who we partner with on this vaccine, so we can’t really influence when it will be completed,” Gerald Strohmaier, a spokesman for Intercell, said by telephone today. The Vienna-based company on May 11 said it expected the interim analysis of the vaccine against Staphylococcus aureus “during the course of 2010,” before telling analysts on a conference call later the same day that the data “may even slip into 2011.”

Staphylococcus aureus is the most common cause of hospital- acquired infections and accounts for about 40 percent of all such cases, according to Intercell’s website. Hospital-acquired infections result in an “annual cost burden of more than $20 billion in the developed world.”

“We believe this vaccine remains a significant opportunity for Intercell,” Mick Readey, an analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in London, wrote in a note to investors. “We regard this as a minor delay, which is probably explained by a slower than expected event rate in the trial.”

The analysis is the data the companies will use to decide whether to enter the last stage of clinical testing required for regulatory approval of the vaccine, said Ian McConnell, a spokesman for Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck. The U.S. drugmaker disclosed the delay at a research and development briefing on May 11, McConnell said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Zoe Schneeweiss in Vienna at zschneeweiss@bloomberg.net; Naomi Kresge in Tel Aviv at nkresge@bloomberg.net

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