Drug development is often fraught with failure, but with sufficient resources and a strong pipeline, you can always make a comeback. Yesterday, one potential turnaround, Idenix Pharmaceuticals
Only one out of every five drugs entering human clinical-stage testing ever makes it to market. Idenix already has one approved therapy, after its hepatitis B antiviral treatment Tyzeka received marketing approval two years ago. But in 2007, it looked like Idenix used up much of its remaining luck, discontinuing its lead antiviral hepatitis C drug candidate after phase 2 testing.
Attempting to recover from this disaster and save its cash for its other pipeline drugs, Idenix handed over full marketing rights of Tyzeka to longtime partner and majority shareholder Novartis
As Idenix detailed on its first-quarter conference call yesterday, these efforts may start paying off when Idenix presents more IDX899 data later this year. It will also report the first efficacy results from an upcoming phase 1 study of hepatitis C nucleotide inhibitor IDX184 in the second half of 2008, and advance a hepatitis C protease inhibitor into human clinical testing "in the first half of 2009."
Thankfully for Idenix's balance sheet, early clinical-stage work on small-molecule compounds to fight infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV is relatively cheap. Despite advancing all these compounds through the clinic, and with only the meager revenue from partner Novartis to support its research, Idenix expects to burn through only slightly more than $60 million this year. The $50 million in cash remaining by the end of 2008 should give Idenix enough moola to survive through at least half of 2009. With several proof-of-concept data releases in its near-term future, Idenix should have multiple chances to become a comeback pharma kid next year.