[[... By making a few calculations -- I will spare you the details -- I now expect an unexciting 50-60% cure rate from these GS-7977 studies. It looks like Gilead will have to remix the drug cocktail, adding another drug to boost efficacy, to achieve more competitive hepatitis C cure rates. I would remain on the sidelines with regards to Gilead shares.
Gilead's pain has been Vertex's gain, with the latter's shares up 14% despite underwhelming Incivek prescription data. Vertex is also benefiting from early Phase II results suggesting a triple combination of Incivek, the experimental Vertex drug VX-222 and ribavirin may be potent enough to exclude the use of injectable and difficult-to-tolerate interferon. An interferon-free regimen would be a big positive, especially since there are hints of reduced rash, a key Incivek side effect. I'm starting to get my usual Hep C headache, so let's cut to the chase: Bold investors might consider owning Vertex shares into next month's EASL conference. The dynamics are complicated, so I wouldn't suggest a big position. Meanwhile, Gilead seems likely to be stuck in neutral for awhile.]]
The writer is more pessimistic about 7977 than I have been.