(VPHM) ViroPharma and Halozyme Therapeutics Begin Trial

ViroPharma Inc. (VPHM) and its partner Halozyme Therapeutics (HALO) recently announced the initiation of a mid-stage trial on its drug Cinryze. The phase II study is designed to evaluate the safety, and pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the subcutaneous formulation of Cinryze in combination with Halozyme’s Enhanze technology, in patients suffering from hereditary angioedema (HAE).

Cinryze in the intravenous form is currently marketed worldwide as a treatment for routine prophylaxis against angioedema attacks in adolescent and adult patients with HAE.

The Enhanze technology is a proprietary drug-delivery platform, using Halozyme’s recombinant human hyaluronidase enzyme (rHuPH20). This proprietary rHuPH20 enzyme facilitates the absorption and dispersion of drugs or fluids that are injected under the skin.

The initiation of the trial triggered a milestone payment of $3 million from ViroPharma to Halozyme.

This study will be conducted in HAE patients who were a part of phase II trial evaluating the subcutaneous formulation of Cinryze when dosed alone.

The initiation of the mid-stage trial of the subcutaneous formulation of Cinryze is an important step for ViroPharma. The approval of the subcutaneous formulation of Cinryze will add to the drug’s sales, which increased 55.1% to $62.5 million in the second quarter of 2011. Higher sales from the drug led to the overall growth in revenues at ViroPharma. In 2011, ViroPharma expects Cinryze sales to range from $250 to $260 million, riding on steady patient growth.

Our View

We currently have a Neutral recommendation on ViroPharma. The stock carries a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold rating) in the short-run. We are pleased with Cinryze’s uptake in the US and expect investor focus to remain on how the drug fares in the European Union, where it received approval in June.

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