Merck to boost hep C drug portfolio with Idenix purchase

June 9, 2014

The acquisition of biopharmaceutical company Idenix Pharmaceuticals by Merck exemplifies the strong market opportunity in the hepatitis C market, according to industry watchers.

The acquisition of biopharmaceutical company Idenix Pharmaceuticals by Merck exemplifies the strong market opportunity in the hepatitis C market, according to industry watchers.

A key focus of Idenix is the treatment of patients with hepatitis C infection.

The transaction, which values the purchase of Idenix at approximately $3.85 billion, has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies.

“Merck expects little growth this year and a decline in 2014 revenues as a result of continued pricing and competitive pressure from generics, and a lack of any significant drug launches,” according to John Santilli, of Access Market Intelligence, which provides market intelligence to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.

“With [the] purchase of Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Merck has realized it needed to strengthen its portfolio to take advantage of the hepatitis C market opportunity.”

Approximately 150 million people suffer from hepatitis C globally. The overall market for Hepatitis C treatment is estimated to reach $20 billion by 2020.

“Recently, Merck’s 2-drug combination pill for hepatitis C stopped the virus in 43 out of 44 newly treated patients in a phase 2 trial, with few major side effects,” according to Santilli. “The results, if repeated in phase 3, could have positioned Merck as a player in the market. The combination of Idenix's experimental drug with Merck’s 2 experimental drugs, if successful, will give Merck the ability to compete against Gilead Sciences.”