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ICN Shares Soar on News of Drug's Test

September 23, 1997|BARBARA MARSH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s stock shot up Monday on news that tests showed its drug ribavirin may be effective in treating hepatitis when combined with a drug manufactured by giant Schering-Plough Corp.

Shares of Costa Mesa-based ICN climbed $6.06 to close at $49.88 in heavy trading on the New York Stock Exchange, after hitting a 52-week high of $52.88 earlier in the session. Nearly 2.7 million shares changed hands, 10 times the stock's recent average daily volume.

New Jersey-based Schering-Plough reported Monday that tests of the combined drugs ribavirin and alpha interferon in hundreds of hepatitis patients who had experienced relapses showed a tenfold increase in the number with undetectable levels of hepatitis C virus. Schering makes alpha interferon and its stock advanced 56 cents to close at $51.56, also on the NYSE.

Hepatitis C, a liver ailment that often reveals no symptoms in its early stages but can be deadly, afflicts about 4 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The government estimates that of 10 chronically infected patients, two to five will develop liver cirrhosis. Of those, 20% to 30% will require a transplant.

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