Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of hepatitis-focused biotech company Achillion Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ACHN ) are diving yet again, currently down 18%, following an analyst downgrade and an update on a key experimental drug.
So what: This was not a pleasant past couple of days for Achillion shareholders, who've been hit with a triple-whammy. First, last week, Gilead Sciences (Nasdaq: GILD ) announced in a study that GS-7977, a treatment for hepatitis C that doesn't require the use of interferon, eliminated the virus in 88% of patients within 12 weeks. Second, while Achillion's phase 2 clinical data showed strong efficacy (you can't do better than 100%), it took 24 weeks for ACH-1625 to reach its endpoint. Time could be an issue here as Gilead's drug is proving effective in a much shorter time frame. Finally, JPMorgan Securities downgraded Achillion to market perform from outperform.
Now what: There's no question that the bounty placed on the hepatitis-C sector is huge, but investors have been reaching out for any positive news for months, whether it really existed or not. It's becoming clear that Gilead's experimental drug has the fast track to success and other hepatitis-C-drug hopefuls are going to be fighting an uphill battle. ACH-1625 still has a long way to go and I just don't see how it's going to unseat GS-7977, especially since GS-7977 will probably beat ACH-1625 to market, assuming that both are approved. Despite today's drop, I'll gladly pass on Achillion.
Craving more input? Start by adding Achillion Pharmaceuticals to your free and personalized watchlist so you can keep up on the latest news with the company.