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Pharmasset Rises After Hepatitis Drug Shows 100% Cure Rate

Pharmasset Inc. climbed 4.9 percent after the company said its experimental drug for treating hepatitis C cured all patients in a study.

All 40 patients who received Pharmasset’s experimental PSI-7977 drug were responsive after 12 weeks, the Princeton, New Jersey-based company said yesterday the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in San Francisco. About half the patients had been followed up to 24 weeks, and they were all cured. There were no significant adverse events.

“Although patient numbers are small, we believe the results are extremely impressive,” wrote Brian Abrahams of Wells Fargo Securities in a note to investors today.

Pharmasset gained $3.34 to $72.23 at the close in New York.

The drug was tested in combination with ribavirin, a medication currently used in treating the disease, in patients with hepatitis C genotypes 2 and 3. Genotype 1 is most common and hardest to treat.

There were four groups in the study: Those who were treated with no interferon and those who received four weeks, eight weeks and 12 weeks of it, according to the data. The study was initiated to see the shortest duration of interferon, which is injected, required for a response.

On Nov. 1, Pharmasset announced it began a Phase 3 clinical trial of the drug in combination with ribavirin, without interferon. That would be an all-oral regimen to treat hepatitis C.

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