Summary: Vertex may win the race against other major drug companies to produce the first treatment in ten years against Hepatitis C, the leading cause of liver cancer. A potent compound called telaprevir, which caused the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company's stock to rise 18% after it was unveiled at a conference, is currently being tested on patients and Vertex is expected to seek approval from the FDA in 2008. If telaprevir is approved, it may be used with other competing drugs in a so-called "cocktail" of medicines, similar to the way AIDS is treated, and may generate $2 billion in sales by 2011. Discovered only 17 years ago, Hepatitis C affects 200 million people worldwide and is responsible for 10,000 deaths a year in the U.S. Telaprevir is expected to cut current treatment time in half. Other drug companies such as Roche, Novartis, Pfizer, Merck and Schering-Plough are also developing treatments for Hepatitis C.
Related links: Drug Discovery in Jeopardy? • InterMune Plays "Let's Make a Deal" [Motley Fool] • Vertex Pharmaceuticals Q3 2006 Earnings Call Transcript
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Vertex (VRTX) • Competitors: Merck (MRK), Pfizer (PFE), Novartis (NVS), Schering-Plough (SGP), Wyeth (WYE), ViroPharma Inc.(VPHM), Abbott Laboratories (ABT), Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc.(IDIX), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), Gilead Sciences (GILD)
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