The euphoria over Gilead Sciences'
But they got a reminder of reality today, when Pharmasset announced it was discontinuing all treatment arms in one of its phase 2b trials that contain the drug PSI-938. The drug candidate caused laboratory abnormalities in tests associated with liver function.
This is nothing new.
Pfizer could be further along in the hepatitis C race if ViroPharma and Wyeth's HCV-796 hadn't died back in 2008, before Pfizer bought Wyeth. HCV-796 suffered from the same potential liver issues as PSI-938. Ditto for InterMune
And the list goes on. Boehringer Ingelheim had problems with one of its protease inhibitors. And trials involving Idenix Pharmaceuticals'
Does the failure of PSI-938 and all the aforementioned compounds mean that Inhibitex
But the failure is a reminder that long-term safety data is still very important to get a drug through the clinical development marathon. Today's drops are justified because the companies were overhyped to begin with. Investors would be well served putting down the acquisition-euphoria Kool-Aid and picking up a history book.
Need help keeping up with the news? Add all the hepatitis C drugmakers to My Watchlist, the Fool's free watchlist service. Or add them individually:
- Add Pharmasset to My Watchlist.
- Add Vertex Pharmaceuticals to My Watchlist.
- Add ViroPharma to My Watchlist.
- Add Pfizer to My Watchlist.
- Add Merck to My Watchlist.
- Add InterMune to My Watchlist.
- Add Inhibitex to My Watchlist.
- Add Idenix Pharmaceuticals to My Watchlist.
- Add Gilead Sciences to My Watchlist.
Fool contributor Brian Orelli holds no position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Pfizer, Gilead Sciences, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.