Medivir Gains as Early Study Shows Drug Kills Hepatitis C Virus

Medivir AB, the drugmaker competing to develop a new hepatitis C medicine, rose the most in four months in Stockholm trading after its drug reduced the virus to undetectable levels in patients who failed earlier treatment.

After 24 weeks, 86 percent of patients who had only partially responded to earlier treatment had undetectable virus levels after taking TMC435 alongside standard care, the Huddinge, Sweden-based company said in a study published today. That compared with undetectable levels in 19 percent of patients receiving a placebo. Shares rose as much as 9.2 percent.

Medivir is developing TMC435 with Tibotec Pharmaceuticals. The drugmaker, a unit of New Brunswick, New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson, also is working simultaneously with Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. on a new hepatitis C drug.

Vertex, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, plans to seek U.S. approval for its medicine, Telaprevir, by the end of the year.

Medivir, which still needs to conduct the last trial needed to seek regulatory approval, said 78 percent of patients who didn’t respond at all to initial treatment had undetectable virus levels after taking TMC435, almost twice as many as those who received a placebo.

The medication also led to undetectable virus levels in 94 percent of patients who had relapsed after receiving earlier care. That compared with 83 percent of patients taking a placebo. 462 patients participated in the 48-week study, with results taken half way through.

Medivir rose 8.5 kronor, or 6.8 percent, to 133.5 kronor at 12:54 p.m. local time. The advance gave the drugmaker a market value of 3.5 billion kronor ($511 million), its highest since December 2000.

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Frances Schwartzkopff at fschwartzko1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at acullen8@bloomberg.net

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