Transcribed from Briefing.com's Inplay:
Vertex Pharm: Leerink Swann previews upcoming VX-770 CF data (29.10 )
Leerink Swann says they have reviewed available data on this agent and spoke to three MEDACorp consultants for their impressions. Firm finds VX-770's early data convincing and believes it has the potential to be a breakthrough agent for cystic fibrosis. Its potential advancement into Phase III and additional news flow from VRTX's CF program could become increasingly factored into the stock in the coming year.
It depends on what restrictions are placed on health care budgets, and underlying that is the question of how one determines how to best spend that money. Avastin for example is used to treat cancer in it's final stages, when nothing else works. On average it lenghtens life by just a few months, and in patient populations usually either of retirement age, or disabled. It costs health insurers many billions a year. Is that a better application of health care dollars? Unless we start rationing health care, to allow universal coverage, the market place, the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries, and the FDA will continue to interact and determine which treatments are approvable and their financial worth.
You're right, qdelfan - if I had a child with the condition, I'd fight like mad for this treatment, and I certainly can't blame anyone who does the same.
But viewing it objectively, money spent on one thing cannot be spent on another, and I'd bet it wouldn't be hard to find alternative uses for that $1 billion/year that would save a lot more lives and relieve a lot more suffering.
Also insurance companies do not usually foot the whole medication bill for orphan drugs. Large personal deductibles by the patient's families, with a subsidy from charitable foundations (given on a "needs" basis) makes up a significant portion of each patient's drug bill. This will likely be in play with CF patients through the CF foundation who will share in the drug's profits in return for their financial support in it's development by Vertex.
If your son or daughter had one of these terrible genetic enzyme defiencies, and would die a miseralbe slow death from organ failure by the age of 25, and could live a normal life with the new medications, I suspect you might feel differently about insurance compnanies spending a billion a year for five thousand young people to live productive adult lives (rather than use insurance dollars to keep them barely alive until they died at age 25). Besides, the trillions spent by this country and it's allies in the past week alone, on bailing out banks and insurance companies from their bad investments, certainly makes the use of insurance company dollars to save young people's lives with CF or other genetic diseases, (until now untreatable), seem like reasonable investments. I'm sure a democratic white house and congress will share those values. Things may be coming together for Vertex at the ideal time for patients and investors.
Does anyone have any idea of the revenue potential for VX-770? How many cystic fibrosis sufferers are there?
As I recall, the research was partially or completely financed by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, as a sort of orphan drug project. I guess that means that VRTX and the other pharma co.s didn't see enough commercial potential in a cystic fibrosis therapy to stake their own money.
Orphan drugs can make a lot of money. Genzyme's approved treatment of glycogen storage disaease which treats just a thousand patients, generates one billion in revenue, and these patients are treated for their entire life. There are 70,000 CF patients in the US and Europe. If Vertex gets just 50% of what Genzyme is getting, and the patients are treated for a lifetime, the revenues, (even if split with the CF foundation,) would be significnant. Of course, until the drug is approved and the percent of CF patients that would beneift with treatment are known, speculating on reimibursement and revenue is quite premature. Still, a major breakthrough in proglonging the quality and length of life of CF patients is possible with this drug, and it would be priced accordingly when approved.
The Vertex presentation at the JMP investor conference confirmed that Phase 2A data on VX 770 will be presented Oct. 23 at the national CF conference in Orlando, and it will provide the data needed to allow VX 770 to get a registration path for a pivotal study lasting 6 to 12 months in 2009. Michael Partridge, the Verter presenter, noted during the Q&A that Vertex could have two new drugs coming to market about the same time i.e. telaprevir and VX 770. The earnings potential for these drugs would be huge. If the market starts to recover next week, a big run up in Vertex share price may be possisble on the relaese of postitive clinical data on VX 770 over the next 10 days.
Thank you for reminding us the upcoming news. Market historians will most likely record this month as the bleakest since 1987. I cannot wait until we pass this month and this year. The good news in late this month and early next month should boost our spirit.