Seeking Alpha's Biotech Weekly: AbbVie Slaps Gilead, Achillion's 'Nuc' Power, And More

by: SA Editor Mike Taylor, CFA


Every Friday, SA highlights some of the week's insightful pieces of opinion and analysis as well as noteworthy Breaking News stories.

This week, contributors took a look at Gilead, AbbVie, Achillion, Express Scripts, Alnylam, Anika, and others in the biotech/healthcare sector.

Did we miss any other big stories? What should Seeking Alpha be tracking in the biotech world? Leave a comment. Or better yet, submit an article of your own.

Every Friday, Seeking Alpha's Biotech Weekly highlights the editors' picks of the week's Seeking Alpha analysis, as well as a review of the top Breaking News stories. What should the Seeking Alpha community be reading and writing about? Please leave a comment to let us know.

See something here that deserves further analysis? We are always looking for new contributors and submissions in the biotech/healthcare space. You can submit an article here to become a contributor. Joining Seeking Alpha's community of writers has substantial benefits:

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And now, on to the week's news and analysis.

Seeking Alpha Analysis You Should Check Out

Here are some of the top breaking news items of the week.

AbbVie's new hepatitis C drug gets boost

  • The price war over hepatitis C drugs continues, after Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX) announced that it will only cover AbbVie's (NYSE:ABBV) newly approved Viekira Pak, which received clearance from the FDA on Friday.
  • The move will help the drug maker take market share away from Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) and J&J (NYSE:JNJ), which make blockbuster hep C drugs, including Sovaldi, Harvoni and Olysio.
  • AbbVie's Viekira Pak will have a price of $83,319, although the agreement with Express Scripts involves a significant discount to that price.

Achillion reports positive interim results for HCV candidates

  • In an open label Phase 2 proxy study, Achillion Pharmaceuticals' (NASDAQ:ACHN) NS5A inhibitor, ACH-3102, in combination with Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) achieved 100% SVR4 in 12 patients in six weeks, independent of baseline viral load, gender and IL28B status. SVR12 results will be reported in H1 2015. The combination therapy was well-tolerated with no serious adverse events reported.
  • In a Phase 1 proof-of-concept study in treatment-naive HCV-1 patients, the company's nucleotide inhibitor, ACH-3422, demonstrated a mean maximum reduction in HCV viral RNA load of 4.8 log10 IU/mL within 14 days at a dose of 700 mg (once daily for 14 days). Three of six patients achieved undetectable HCV RNA (<10 IU/mL).

FDA clears Bristol-Myers cancer drug

  • The FDA approves Bristol-Myers Squibb's (BMY) PD-1 inhibitor Opdivo (nivolumab) for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma who no longer respond to other drugs. Opdivo's intended use is for patients who have been previously treated with ipilimumab (Yervoy) or ipilimumab plus a BRAF inhibitor if mutation positive.

MacroGenics teams up with Janssen in blood cancer

  • MacroGenics (MGNX) enters into a global collaboration and license agreementwith Janssen Biotech (JNJ) for MGD011, a humanized CD19 x CD3 DART protein, for the potential treatment of B-cell malignancies. MGD011 is based on MacroGenics' proprietary platform for Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting (DART) to simultaneously target CD19 and CD3.

Cytokinetics and Astellas expand partnership

  • Cytokinetics (NASDAQ:CYTK) and Astellas Pharma (OTCPK:ALPMF) (OTCPK:ALPMY) expand their collaboration agreement focused on the research, development and commercialization of skeletal muscle activators to include the development of CK-2127107, a fast skeletal troponin activator, in spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) as well as other neuromuscular indications. Cytokinetics will conduct a Phase 2 trial of CK-2127107 in patients with SMA that will commence in 2015. The companies will jointly develop and may jointly commercialize CK-2127107 as well as other fast skeletal troponin activators

Other stories of note:

You can always find the latest Seeking Alpha industry updates by checking out our Healthcare Breaking News and Healthcare Analysis feeds.

Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it. The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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