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Medicines Co. rises on positive antibiotic data

PARSIPANNY, N.J. (AP) -- Shares of the Medicines Co. rose Tuesday after the company reported positive results for an experimental antibiotic to treat skin infections.

THE SPARK: The company said oritavancin worked as well as an older antibiotic, vancomycin, in treating infections; including those caused by the hard-to-treat bacteria, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. The study compared early treatment results and follow-ups between patients taking the two antibiotics. Safety profiles were similar for the two medications, with about 60 percent of patients reporting an adverse event.

THE BIG PICTURE: In recent decades some types of germs have become immune to popular antibiotics like penicillin, creating concern about the dwindling number of new antibiotics available. Oritavancin is designed to be given in a single dose to patients with acute bacterial skin infections. It differs from vancomycin, which must be given over a period of days.

THE ANALYSIS: Citi analyst Jonathan Eckard noted the positive results but remained skeptical about commercial opportunities for the drug.

"In the subset of patients in the trial with MRSA, the efficacy of oritavancin on the primary endpoint was equivalent but no better than the generic competitor vancomycin," Eckard notes. As a result, Eckard does not expect broad use of the drug, if it is approved.

SHARE ACTION: Shares of The Medicines Company rose $1.45, or 6.5 percent, to $23.74.