OPT-80 likely wouldn't gain approval and hit the market until mid-to-late 2010
ViroPharma shares fall on rival's study data Tuesday November 11, 4:24 pm ET ViroPharma shares drop on positive infection drug study results from Optimer Pharmaceuticals
NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of ViroPharma Inc. dove Tuesday after likely rival Optimer Pharmaceuticals Inc. said patients taking its developing gastrointestinal infection drug had a higher cure rate and were less likely to relapse.
Exton, Pa.-based ViroPharma saw shares fall $1.64, or 13 percent, to $10.93 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded between $7.78 and $15.16 over the past 52 weeks.
Meanwhile, shares of San Diego-based Optimer surged $4, or 87 percent, to $8.60 after having traded between $3.30 and $9.70 over the past 52 weeks.
In a statement Monday, Optimer said 92.1 percent of patients treated with OPT-80 in a late-stage study were cured, compared with 89.8 percent taking ViroPharma Vancocin, which is already on the market. Patients on OPT-80 also relapsed less than their counterparts on Vancocin.
"If (Optimer's) data is borne out by further study, we would welcome this as good news for patients," said ViroPharma President and Chief Executive Vincent Milano, noting that a significant reduction in relapse rate would be the primary area of potential improvement.
The gastrointestinal infection is called CDI, or clostridium difficile infection, and it affects the colon. It is most commonly obtained by patients in hospitals following treatment with antibiotics.
Vancocin sales rose 29 percent to $65.9 million during ViroPharma's third quarter and the company expects sales to reach between $235 million to $245 million in 2008. It is ViroPharma's only drug on the market, though the company plans next month to begin marketing the already-approved drug Cinryze, which treats a hereditary protein deficiency that can lead to dangerous swelling.
ViroPharma acquired Cinryze with its purchase of Lev Pharmaceuticals, which closed last month.
Despite the boost, Optimer's drug is still undergoing an additional late-stage study and is years away from reaching the market.
Cowen and Co. analyst Rachel McMinn reaffirmed a "Neutral" rating on ViroPharma, saying the possibility for generic versions of the drug have greater relevance than OPT-80.
"Additionally, the infectious disease community is notoriously slow to adopt novel therapies, and we expect OPT-80 to gain share slowly in the first few years of launch," she said.
Meanwhile, Thomas Weisel Partners analyst Stephen Willey reaffirmed an "Overweight" rating on ViroPharma, also saying the impact of generic drugs is more of a risk to Vancocin. He already expects generic competitors for Vancocin before 2010, meanwhile, OPT-80 likely wouldn't gain approval and hit the market until mid-to-late 2010, he added.