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Good start for Incivek

Vertex HCV drug Incivek beats initial Street expectations, Merck's Victrelis

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:VRTX) ticked down all last week in the run-up to its earnings day. But the stock regained all the lost ground and more after the first sales numbers for HCV drug Incivek telaprevir showed that it beat both Merck & Co. Inc.'s Victrelis boceprevir and analyst expectations.

After sinking $3 to $47.98 in the four days prior toThursday's postmarket earnings announcement, Vertex jumped $3.88 on Friday to close the week up $0.88 at $51.86.

Both HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitors were approved in the U.S. - and launched within days of one another in May - to treat chronic HCV genotype 1 infection in combination with standard of care (peginterferon alfa and ribavarin).

Vertex reported $74.5 million in sales of Incivek, half from stocking and half to end user sales. The Incivek sales numbers beat analyst estimates for end user sales, which ranged from $31-$35 million.

Merck (NYSE:MRK) said Victrelis posted $21 million in sales for the quarter.

Analyst notes following the earnings announcements estimated that Incivek has captured 75-80% of the market.

Earlier in the week, Vertex reported data from the open-label Phase II ZENITH trial that evaluated a four-drug regimen consisting of peginterferon alfa-2a, ribavirin, Incivek and 400 or 100 mg VX-222, the company's non-nucleoside HCV NS5B polymerase inhibitor.

Results showed that 50% of patients (15/30) receiving the regimen including 400 mg VX-222 were eligible to stop all treatment at week 12, and 93% (14/15) of these patients had undetectable viral loads 12 weeks after treatment ended. The 100 mg VX-222 arm had an 82% SVR rate.

Vertex is enrolling two additional arms evaluating 400 mg VX-222 given twice daily plus Incivek and ribavirin, with data expected in 1H12.

Tables

EPS watch
Company 2Q11 EPS est 2Q11 EPS actual Outcome Growth from 2Q10 7/29 cls Wk chg % chg Mcap chg 7/29 Mcap
Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) $1.28 $1.37 Beat by $0.09 -1% $54.70 -$0.52 -1% -$486.2 $51,144.5
2Q11 revenues were $4B, up 4% from $3.8B in 2Q10. The Street was expecting $3.78B. Sales of musculoskeletal drug Prolia denosumab and Xgeva denosumab were $44M and $73M, above analyst estimates of $39-$42M and $68-$72M, respectively. 2Q11 sales of cancer and renal drug Aranesp darbepoetin alfa were $585M, off 3% from $603M in 2Q10. Amgen attributed the drop to a decrease in unit sales, partially offset by a higher average net sales price. Sales of Epogen epoetin alfa for chronic renal failure were off 17% to $543M in 2Q11,

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