Biotech not discouraged by Merck protease inhibitor setback

The biotech contenders in the HIV protease inhibitor race haven't been discouraged by recent reports that virus levels in patients treated with Merck's L-735,524 compound have returned to baseline levels.

Merck's problems with its lead compound were totally predictable, according to Joshua Boger, president and CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Cambridge, Mass.). Boger told BioCentury, "I'm on public record saying that the Merck inhibitor was not going to work."