InterMune (ITMN) Soars on Lung Disease Treatment Tests

Shares of Brisbane, CA, based InterMune Inc. (ITMN) soared on Tuesday, on news that its Pirfenidone drug has produced positive test results. The drug is used to treat a fatal lung disease, and had previously been rejected by federal regulators. InterMune's stock was up 170.77%, or $23.84, to close at $37.50. More than 50 million shares of the stock changed hands on an otherwise soft day on Wall Street.

InterMune Inc. is a biotechnology company engaged in research and development, as well as commercialization of therapies centering on pulmonology and orphan fibrotic diseases. The company had a loss of $184.69 million on total revenue of $26.2 million in in 2012. The company employs 269 people and it's stock trades on the NASDAQ. It is also a component of the 20 stock NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index. The company announced early Tuesday that its Pirfenidone drug has achieved positive Phase 3 ASCEND test results in the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, a progressive lung disease. Adverse reactions to the drug have been found to be minimal. IPF is an irreversible and ultimately fatal disease characterized by progressive loss of lung function due to fibrosis (scarring) in the lungs, which hinders the ability of lungs to absorb oxygen. The median survival time from diagnosis is two to five years, with a five-year survival rate of approximately 20-40 percent. InterMune submitted the drug to the US Food and Drug Administration in 2010, but the FDA rejected it as a treatment for IPF. Based on the favorable results of the Phase 3 test, the company plans to resubmit the drug for FDA approval. Resubmission is expected to take place sometime during the third quarter of this year. Pirfenidone has already been approved in Canada and throughout Europe, for the treatment of adults with mild to moderate IPF. It is also available in China, India, Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Argentina. It is marketed in those countries under either Esbriet or Pirespa. According to the test results announced Tuesday morning, Pirfenidone has demonstrated a near 50% reduction in the proportion of patients who have a greater than 10% decline in lung capacity, or death. The percentage of subjects who saw a halt in the decline in lung capacity was more than double that of the patients who were not using the drug. "The ASCEND data demonstrated that pirfenidone significantly reduced decline in lung function and significantly increased the proportion of patients who had no decline, which is an important advance in the field,"

Published on Feb 26, 2014
By Kevin Mercadante

Copyrighted 2020. Content published with author's permission.

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