CORRECTED - CORRECTED-PREVIEW-Human Genome hepatitis C drug may work, but wi

viernes 30 de enero de 2009 20:34 CET

(Corrects to add dropped word in company name in the first paragraph)

By Jennifer Robin Raj

BANGALORE Jan 30 (Reuters) - When Human Genome Sciences Inc HGSI.O releases data from a crucial late-stage trial of its drug to treat hepatitis C, analysts will be looking for more than just positive results.

The question on their mind: will the data show the drug albuferon is capable of making money?

Analysts believe the trial, called ACHIEVE 1, will meet its main goal of showing albuferon's non-inferiority compared with the standard of care, but they will be keeping a close watch on the drug's sustained virologic response (SVR) rate to see if the data shows numerically that albuferon has comparable efficacy.

"We do need to see comparable efficacy. It's a non-inferiority trial and there's a certain band of what would be considered non-inferior. (But) if the trial were to show numerically better SVR rates, that would go a long way to convince the market place that the drug has commercial legs," Thomas Weisel Partners analyst Ian Somaiya said.

Albuferon, which could be worth several hundred million dollars, is a type of protein called interferon, and would be taken by patients once every fortnight.

It is differentiated by its dosage from the standard of care, which is administered once a week.

"There's been a reluctance in the investment community to believe a drug given once every other week in this setting, given the side effects of interferon, offers enough of an incentive for physicians to move away from Pegasys," Thomas Weisel's Somaiya said.   Continuación...