This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Rethinking Idenix Pharma in Wake of Bristol's Hep C Blow Up

Stocks in this article: IDIX GILD VRTX BMY

I initially considered Idenix Pharmaceuticals (IDIX) and its nuc IDX-184 a winner emerging from the BMS-094 blowup. Now, I'm less sure.

IDX-184 has a chemical structure that is similar to both BMS-094 and Pharmasset's PSI-938, another Hep C nuc that was killed off by toxicity problems last year. More specifically, the active moiety of IDX-184 -- the part of the molecule that makes the drug work -- appears to be similar to the active moieties of both BMS-094 and PSI-938. That could be a big problem.

Chemists often attach nonessential atoms to a drug candidate in an attempt to change the compound's overall physiological behavior. As the drug is metabolized in the body, those byproducts are cleaved and the working core of the drug -- the active moiety -- is unveiled.

The byproducts are usually innocuous, but not always. For example, it's not clear whether the side effects that killed BMS-094 were caused by the active moiety or by 1-naphthol, a toxic metabolite of the drug. Similarly, PSI-938's fatal flaw remains unclear. This worries me, and it should worry Idenix bulls.

Idenix does have a very reasonable defense. Management contends IDX-184 is nearly entirely targeted to the liver and metabolized poorly in other cell types. Further, IDX-184 seems to be more slowly metabolized by the liver than BMS-094. These factors certainly lessen the risk of toxicity. Thus far, Idenix has treated roughly 60 patients for 12 weeks with IDX-184 and observed no safety signals, including no cardiovascular side effects.

That's encouraging, but I would prefer to overpay for Idenix after there are more data on IDX-184. I would reduce or eliminate long exposure to Idenix until the drug's safety has been more completely established.

Two more Idenix red flags that make me cautious: First, Novartis (NVS), Idenix's partner for nearly a decade, ended the relationship last week. I understand that Novartis wasn't much of a collaborator so walking away might actually be a net positive for Idenix. But I still tend to view pharma-biotech breakups as a negative, although in this case a bit less so.

2 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 17,804.80 +26.65 0.15%
S&P 500 2,070.65 +9.42 0.46%
NASDAQ 4,765.38 +16.9840 0.36%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs