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January Market Jitters Fails to Derail Biotech
Date:2/1/2008

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Fears that the economy is not only heading towards a recession but is also rapidly weakening had investors in a skittish mood during January. However, biotech held steady with the Burrill Biotech Select Index closing unchanged well ahead of the NASDAQ, which posted a January loss of 9.9%, and the Dow, which closed down 4.6%.

"Healthcare is usually able to ride out extremely volatile capital markets with less damage because they are viewed as 'safe' stocks in recession periods," said G. Steven Burrill, CEO of Burrill & Company a San Francisco based global leader in life sciences whose principal activities are in Private Equity, Venture Capital, Merchant Banking and Media, "and biotech, on a relative basis, performed well in January." Helping the cause was the buzz created around the JPMorgan's 26th Annual Healthcare Conference, which continues to set records for attendance during the four day San Francisco-based event. Many of the 300-plus companies, which presented at the event were reporting updated clinical and year end results ... and the mood was quite optimistic.

Most notable was Pharmasset, whose shares surged to close the month up 87%. Early in January the company announced positive data from a short-term Phase I study on its hepatitis C candidate, R7128. The four-week trial assessed two doses of Pharmasset's R7128 in combination with the standard of care, Pegasys plus Copegus, in 50 chronically infected patients who hadn't received prior treatment. Pharmasset said 85% of patients given the higher dose, 1,500 milligrams, and 30% at the lower 500 milligram dose had undetectable levels of the virus after four weeks. In comparison, only 10% of patients on the placebo, which was standard of care alone, achieved undetectable levels of the virus.

Pharmasset was the only bright spot amongst a sea of decliners in the Burrill Mid-Cap Biotech Index group as shares of these companies got dragged down with
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SOURCE Burrill & Company
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