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Incyte Climbs on Arthritis Drug Results: Wilmington Mover

Incyte Corp., a maker of cancer and autoimmune drugs, climbed for a second trading day after a study showed improvement for patients on the experimental rheumatoid arthritis treatment it’s developing with Eli Lilly & Co.

Incyte rose 6.8 percent to $23.21 at the close of New York trading, the day after data were released at the European League Against Rheumatism’s annual meeting in Berlin. The shares gained 4.4 percent yesterday. The drug from the Wilmington, Delaware-based company reduced symptoms for 76 percent of patients in one group compared to 41 percent on a placebo, researchers said.

The once-a-day pill, originally named INCB028050, faces competition from tofacitinib, the rheumatoid arthritis treatment being developed by New York-based Pfizer Inc., the world’s largest drugmaker. The study found “no major safety surprises” and bodes well for Incyte, said Brian Abrahams, a Wells Fargo Securities analyst in New York.

“The results confirm ‘050’s potential to be a very competitive oral” treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, Abrahams said in a note to clients. “We could see some initial share upside from these strong confirmatory results.”

The study came in the second of three phases normally required for drugs to win U.S. regulatory approval. Incyte said in December 2009 that it would partner with Indianapolis-based Lilly on the development and sale of the drug, which was renamed LY3009104.

Incyte shares have risen 37 percent over the past 12 months.

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