Healthcare Business

After Idenix: The Next Four Biotech Buyout Candidates

Wall Street likes nothing better than to start the week off with a bang, and pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) rang the bell Monday by spending $3.85 billion to buy small cap biotech company Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: IDNX). The company made the deal to bolster its arsenal in the battle for new hepatitis C treatments, which is proving to be a huge money maker as the disease is on the rise.

Merck paid a huge 240% premium to the company’s closing price on Friday, and shareholders must have done the victory formation big on Monday. Idenix is one of a number of companies trying to design and formulate drugs that would be part of all-oral cocktail regimens for hepatitis C, which are replacing interferon-based therapies.

The question we wanted to answer was what other companies are in the process of working on new therapies for the disease that may also be targets? We scoured our Wall Street research looking for the companies working on new drugs, and came up with four names, some large and some small. All may be in play after Merck’s stunning purchase.

Here are the four top names we found that all have hepatitis C drugs in their current pipelines at one stage or another.

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BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: BCRX) designs, optimizes and develops small molecule pharmaceuticals that block key enzymes involved in the pathogenesis of diseases. The company currently has a polymerase inhibitor in preclinical evaluations that may be instrumental in a new treatment.

While far away from anything final, BioCryst also has multiple pipeline products that could prove interesting to a major pharmaceutical. The Thomson/First Call price target for the stock is $17. BioCryst closed Monday at $11.30 a share.

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