Why Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Shares Soared Today

By Markets Fool.com

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

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What: Shares in Achillion Pharmaceuticals jumped by more than 10% earlier today after rumors surfaced that it had cancelled participation in an industry conference, sparking hopes that a suitor may emerge.

So What: Achillion Pharmaceuticals is developing next-generation therapies for hepatitis C, and the company has previously reported impressive results for its NS5A inhibitor, ACH-3102.

In small trials, 100% of patients achieved a functional cure when receiving both ACH-3102 and Gilead Sciences' Sovaldi, a pan-genotype hepatitis C drug that notched more than $10 billion in sales last year.

Importantly, those high cure rates were achieved over an eight and six week treatment period that would substantially improve upon the length of treatment involved with currently-approved therapies. For instance, Sovaldi treatment lasts 12 weeks, and although Gilead's other hepatitis C drug Harvoni can be taken for as little as 8 weeks, only about 45% of genotype 1 patients qualify for that shorter duration regimen.

That improvement in treatment duration could be enough to attract the attention of an acquirer, but investors should recognize that there are many reasons that participation in a conference may be canceled.

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Now What: Rather thanchasing this stock higher based on a rumor, investors should focus on Achillion Pharmaceuticals' pipeline opportunity instead.

On that basis, Achillion Pharmaceuticals is an intriguing company that has some potential catalysts on the way.

Achillion Pharmaceuticals is currently evaluating ACH-3102 plus Sovaldi over a four week period, and it plans to launch mid stage trials seeking to replace Sovaldi in its cocktail with its own ACH-3422.

If its home grown drugs put up similar results to the Sovaldi combination, then it could conceivably have a best-in-class treatment option on its hands. Since Gilead Sciences racked up sales of $12.4 billion from its hepatitis C drugs last year, ongoing success in trials could conceivably make Achillion Pharmaceuticals far more valuable than its current $1.3 billion market cap.

The article Why Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Shares Soared Today originally appeared on Fool.com.

Todd Campbell owns shares of Achilllion and Gilead Sciences. Todd owns E.B. Capital Markets, LLC. E.B. Capital's clients may or may not have positions in the companies mentioned.The Motley Fool recommends Gilead Sciences. The Motley Fool owns shares of Gilead Sciences. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.