The Newest Hep C Partnership

The hepatitis C space is starting to look a lot like a soap opera with all the canoodling going on.

First Pharmasset (NAS: VRUS) , which is being purchased by Gilead Sciences (NAS: GILD) , partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYS: BMY) to test Pharmasset's PSI-7977 with Bristol's daclatasvir. Then Pharmasset started testing PSI-7977 with TMC435 from Johnson & Johnson (NYS: JNJ) .

And now, Bristol-Myers and Johnson & Johnson are hooking up. And you'll never guess which two molecules they're planning on testing together: daclatasvir and TMC435, the same ones that are being tested individually with Pharmasset's drug. Bristol-Myers and Johnson & Johnson plan to test the two drugs on their own and in combination with one or both parts of the current standard of treatment, ribavirin and pegylated-interferon sold by Merck (NYS: MRK) and Roche.

Cocktails of multiple oral drugs are the future of hepatitis C treatment. It wouldn't surprise me, though, if the companies wait and see how the data from the three individual pairs turns out before trying to work out the details of what a three-way partnership would look like.

The fact that Pharmasset, Bristol, and Johnson & Johnson are so hot on each others' drugs doesn't bode well for others developing hepatitis C drugs, such as Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NAS: VRTX) and Inhibitex (NAS: INHX) .

Stay tuned in as the hepatitis C world turns by adding the companies to your watchlist. You can add them all to your free My Watchlist by clicking here or add them individually below.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Brian Orelli holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Gilead Sciences, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and Johnson & Johnson. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a diagonal call position in Johnson & Johnson. 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.

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