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Bristol-Myers taking $1.8B hepatitis C drug charge

NEW YORK (AP) -- Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said Friday it will take a $1.8 billion charge related to a failed hepatitis C drug, meaning the company is scrapping most of the value of its $2.5 billion purchase of Inhibitex Inc. earlier this year.

The company said Thursday that it was ending development of Inhibitex's most advanced drug candidate because of the death of one patient in a mid-stage clinical trial. Bristol-Myers stopped the trial on Aug. 1. It disclosed charge in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday and said the write-down will be part of its third-quarter results.

Shares of the New York drugmaker rose 55 cents to $32.70 in morning trading. The stock is down nearly 8 percent in the year to date.

After the market closed on Thursday, Bristol-Myers said it was ending development of BMS-986094 because of safety concerns. The patient in the study died of heart failure, and the Food and Drug Administration placed studies of the drug on clinical hold after the death was reported. Trials of a similar drug that is being studied by Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. were also halted.

Shares of Idenix lost 13 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $5.95 Friday.

Inhibitex is also running clinical trials of Aurexis, a treatment for dangerous staph infections in the blood, and it is running preclinical studies of other hepatitis C treatments.

On Thursday Bristol-Myers agreed to sell another drug candidate developed by Inhibitex. Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc. agreed to pay $1 million upfront for FV-100, which is intended to treat pain caused by the viral infection shingles. Synergy also agreed to make other milestone payments and to pay royalties on sales if the drug is approved.

Synergy Pharmaceuticals shares edged up 7 cents to $4.47.