Ahead of the Bell: InterMune shares climb

The Associated Press
Associated Press

Shares of InterMune Inc. climbed 11 percent Thursday before markets opened and after the drug developer said it plans to launch its lung disease treatment Esbriet in England and Wales this summer.

The Brisbane, Calif., company said Wednesday that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommended Esbriet to treat patients with mild to moderate cases of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, a fatal lung disease that causes inflammation and scarring. Esbriet is designed to slow the disease's progress and reduce lung function declines.

The institute is the health technology appraisal body in England and Wales.

InterMune estimates that there are about 6,100 to 9,500 mild-to-moderate cases of IPF in England and Wales. It expects to start its launch of Esbriet there by the end of June.

InterMune also said Finland's pharmaceutical pricing board agreed to pricing and reimbursement for Esbriet in that country, starting June 1.

The company said earlier this year it expects Esbriet sales to reach $40 million to $70 million in 2013, up from about $26 million in 2012. The drug is on the market in several European countries and Canada.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the drug, but InterMune said in January that it has finished enrolling patients in a late-stage U.S. trial. It expects to report results from that trial during the second quarter of 2014.

Shares of InterMune climbed $1, or 11.1 percent, to $10 in premarket trading Thursday.