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Boehringer Ingelheim to start late-stage hepatitis C drug trial

By Toni Clarke

BOSTON (Reuters) - Boehringer Ingelheim said on Saturday it plans to initiate a late-stage clinical trial of its experimental hepatitis C treatment following promising results from earlier studies.

The company announced final data from a mid-stage trial of its treatment regimen which showed that 69 percent of patients in the study were free of the virus 12 and 24 weeks following the end of treatment.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infectious disease of the liver that can lead to liver failure and transplant.

Historically, hepatitis C has been treated with pegylated interferon and ribavirin, but treatment lasts as long as 48 weeks and interferon is associated with flu-like side effects.

The goal of drugmakers now, including Boehringer, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc, Gilead Sciences Inc and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co is to develop products that do not need to be combined with interferon. Most analysts consider Gilead to currently be at the forefront of the race.

Full results from Boehringer's trial, known as SOUND-C2, were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in Boston. Preliminary data were presented earlier this year.

Boehringer's trial tested a combination of BI-201335, a protease inhibitor, BI-207127, a polymerase inhibitor, and ribivirin.

Boehringer is a privately held company headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany.

(Reporting By Toni Clarke; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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