GILD Deal Validates VRUS Platform

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Forbes.com, Fall, 2011. This article was placed on behalf of the U.S. based equity research effort of institutional broker and investment bank Canaccord Genuity. It was part of a series of articles developed under an agreement with forbes.com to work with a variety of contributors and assist them in delivering actionable investment ideas each week. The site, forbes.com is one of the top 500 sites in the world with nearly 10 million subscribers and approximately 100 million page views a month.

Following the announcement of a definitive agreement for Gilead Sciences (GILD) to acquire Pharmasset (VRUS), Canaccord Genuity life sciences analyst George Farmer, Ph.D. in a note to investors, “We see this providing clear validation of VRUS’s nuc prodrug platform, led by PSI-7977.”

He said PSI-7977 recently entered the Phase III FISSION trial as part of a comprehensive Phase III development program aiming to demonstrate wide activity across the broad HCV patient population (See key upcoming events for VRUS).

He said planning for VRUS’s Phase III FISSION trial were informed by stellar data presented recently at The Liver Meeting, which showed 100% cure rates for the 7977+ribavirin doublet in genotype 2/3 patients.

“This data and the Gilead acquisition support our belief that nuc prodrugs such as 7977 will form the backbone of a future interferon-free HCV treatment landscape.”

He added: “We see positive read-through to shares of Inhibitex (INHX), developers of INX-189, also a nuc prodrug sharing 7977’s mechanism of action, which has shown early clinical signals of activity very comparable to 7977.”