Vertex Smashes Wall Street Sales Expectations In Hepatitis C Drug Debut

7/28/11Follow @xconomy

Vertex Pharmaceuticals is off to a running start in the marketplace with its brand new hepatitis C drug.

The Cambridge, MA-based company (NASDAQ: VRTX) said today that it generated $74.5 million in sales of telaprevir (Incivek) in the quarter that ended June 30. That’s an especially big number as far as new pharmaceutical rollouts go—Wall Street analysts were only expecting about $31 million, according to TheStreet.com. It also should be noted that Vertex’s performance came in just six weeks of work, since the drug was first cleared for sale by the FDA on May 23.

Vertex’s sales number is the most important figure in today’s earnings report, since this product has been hotly anticipated for years. The product has shown in clinical trials that when it is added to a couple standard treatments, it can double the cure rate to about 80 percent of patients, while cutting the course of treatment in half, to about six months. Vertex’s drug, along with a competitor from Merck, has created new demand for treatment among the estimated 3 million Americans with hepatitis C infections.

Many are lining up to get treatment for the first time for this chronic liver damaging disease, since the cure rate is so much higher, and the Vertex drug enables patients to shorten the time they must endure the flu-like side effects of the standard drugs.

Shares of Vertex climbed $1.52, or about 3 percent, to $49.50 in after-hours trading following the earnings report. Vertex will host a conference call and webcast today at 5 pm ET/2 pm PT to discuss the second quarter, and take analysts’ questions.

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