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Enanta drug part of hepatitis C priority review

A drug compound codeveloped by Watertown biotech Enanta Pharmaceuticals Inc. is part of an experimental hepatitis C regimen from AbbVie Inc. that was granted priority review Friday by the Food and Drug Administration.

Enanta also said it had received $40 million in new milestone payments from AbbVie — partly because of the FDA filing — bringing to more than $150 million the amount it has received under a collaboration struck in 2006 with the North Chicago, Ill., company.

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Enanta, which went public in an initial public offering last year, worked with AbbVie on a protease inhibitor that is part of an all-oral, four-drug combination the Illinois company hopes to market to treat the 3.2 million Americans infected with the hepatitis C virus.

That drug cocktail, if approved by US regulators, would compete with Gilead Science Inc.’s hepatitis C pill Sovaldi, one of the fastest-selling drugs in history.

Drug giant Merck & Co., which agreed early this week to buy Cambridge-based Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $3.85 billion, hopes to market its own three-drug cocktail in the hepatitis C market.

Securities analysts have projected that market to generate $200 billion in sales between now and 2030.

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.
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