Vertex Pharmaceuticals hepatitis C drug plunge, looks to cystic fibrosis
Incivek sales in the fourth quarter fell by half to $222.8 million from $456.8 million in the year-ago period. Vertex shares were down 2 percent at $45.50 in after-hours trading.
After a first year on the market that saw Incivek sales soar past $1 billion in record time, sales have steeply declined over the past few quarters. Many patients have chosen either to wait for new drugs that promise fewer side effects and shorter treatment duration, or have signed up for clinical trials testing new interferon-free options being pursued by several companies, including Vertex itself.
Incivek was approved in 2011 to great fanfare as it doubled cure rates for the serious liver disease. But it must be taken with interferon, which causes miserable flu-like symptoms that lead many patients to delay or discontinue treatment. New options are seen as being less than a year away.
Vertex management, on a conference call with analysts and investors, said Icivek will continue to generate revenue in 2013 from patients motivated to begin treatment before new options are available and from those whose disease is too far along to safely wait for new drugs.
The Massachusetts-based biotechnology company reported a net loss of $76.1 million, or 35 cents per share, compared with a profit of $158.6 million, or 74 cents per share, a year ago.
The results included a charge of
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