NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Investors are betting on which company will be the next Idenix (IDIX) -- a hot target for a buyout. The favorites on StockTwits.com? Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACHN - Get Report) and Inovio (INO).
Drug giant Merck (MRK) announced Monday that it would acquire Idenix for $3.85 billion. The company's "promising portfolio" of hepatitis C treatments was the main driver of the deal, according to Merck's Research Laboratories president.
Many investors speculate that the $24.50 per share cash deal -- a more than 233% premium over the prior closing price -- was so high because of a bidding war with Merck competitors. And they believe the losing bidders -- reportedly Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Abbvie (ABBV) -- could now try to secure Idenix competitors with promising hep C drugs of their own.
$ACHN Abbvie and J&J are currently completely locked out of the Hep C market....ACHN will get its premium is my bet.? Golden Gate Sings (@goldengatesings2) Jun. 10 at 12:11 PM
Achillion Pharmaceuticals has several Hepatitis C treatments in human trials. The company announced today that it began dosing patients with chronic hepatitis C with its ACH-3422 drug and will report the results in the fall. It also announced that the FDA removed a clinical hold on sovaprevir, another hepatitis C treatment. Sovaprevir is in Phase 2 clinical trials and can resume dosing patients with hepatitis C. The company can also dose some healthy control patients, but not as many times, according to the FDA.
The stock surged more than 53% after the news.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals also has several hepatitis vaccines, also known as immunotherapies. It has a hepatitis C vaccine in Phase 1 human trials and a hepatitis B vaccine in preclinical trials. The company's pipeline also includes vaccines for HIV, influenza, malaria and HPV strains that cause cervical cancer and head and neck cancers.