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NicOx Rises Most Since 2006 on Glaucoma Drug Study: Paris Mover

NicOx SA, a French drugmaker, posted its biggest one-day gain in six years after saying an experimental glaucoma treatment it licensed to Bausch & Lomb Inc. helped patients in a mid-stage study.

The shares surged 82 cents, or 45 percent, to 2.64 euros in Paris, giving NicOx a market value of 191.9 million euros ($252 million). It was the steepest increase since March 2, 2006.

The drug helped reduce the fluid pressure inside the eye in patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension, the companies said today in a joint statement outlining the trial results. Bausch & Lomb will pay Sophia Antipolis, France-based NicOx $10 million for meeting the target and begin advanced tests on the compound, known as BOL-303259-X, they said. Pfizer Inc. had previously dropped the drug’s development.

“Today’s announcement is a very good surprise,” Pierre Corby, an analyst at Aurel BGC in Paris, wrote in a note to clients today. He raised his recommendation on the stock to “buy” from “hold.”

Two of the four doses tested reduced eye-fluid pressure more than Pfizer’s Xalatan, according to the statement.

NicOx sold rights to the drug to Rochester, New York-based Bausch & Lomb in March 2010. It had repurchased them from Pfizer in 2009 after the U.S. company decided not to pursue the compound’s development. NicOx is the best-performing stock today in a 353-member CAC All-Tradable Index.

“I can’t hide we’re happy about it,” Mailys Ferrere, who heads investments at the Fonds Strategique d’Investissement, France’s sovereign investment fund, said during a press conference in Paris. The fund was NicOx’s biggest shareholder with a 5.4 percent stake at the end of 2010, according to Bloomberg data.

“We’re still there and we continue supporting the company,” Ferrere said. The fund, best known in France as FSI, acquired a stake in NicOx in 2009, she said.

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