InterMune Sinks on Competition From Boehringer Lung Drug

InterMune Inc. (ITMN), the developer of a medicine for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, dropped the most in almost two years as investors grew concerned about competition from drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH.

InterMune fell 17 percent to $13.45 at 2:53 p.m. New York time, after hitting $13.42 in its biggest intraday decline since April 2012. The Brisbane, California-based company had gained 66 percent in the 12 months through yesterday.

Boehringer said yesterday it will start a registry to collect data on patients with IPF, a lung-scarring disease whose cause is unknown. The German drugmaker also recently started a late-stage study in the disease, suggesting its trials may be positive, said Michael Yee of RBC Capital Markets.

“For InterMune, this simply means that the lead competitor has an incrementally higher likelihood of having positive data (i.e. above 50 percent chance) or might file on the data, and thus is a higher likelihood it might compete with InterMune in the future,” Yee wrote today in a research note.

InterMune’s drug, Esbriet, is approved in Europe to treat IPF. It was rejected in 2010 by U.S. regulators, who asked for a new trial to prove it works against the disease. Data from InterMune’s study, called Ascend, are expected in March or April, Yee said.

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