I am looking at vrtx based on the possibility of an advance in its HEP C program but it appears that this program is running into trouble. Where did you get the information on their problems? Is Agouron farther along on this than VRTX? Interested to hear any info you or anyone else has on this subject. Good luck
1. yeah, I'm disappointed in vrtx too-I don't think amprenavir is going to be a real blockbuster entering a crowded market with no clear advantage 2. adefovir from gilead has modest activity alone (.5 log or a little better) not 4 logs! but in combo can achieve 2-3 log; also there are SERIOUS safety issues emerging (high rate of Fanconi's syndrome-nephropathy-necessitating dose reduction in all pts at 16 wks. This may limit it to salvage therapy rather than upfront in healthier pts despite it's favorable dosing regimen 3. PNU and Parke-Davis have designer PI's in development specifically targeted for PI resistant virus and ABT-378 is in phase II 4. Would have said this level was a good entry point but I think it may break through this previous support to the downside (big volume friday worries me) 5. Long term (years) vrtx may pan out but I think it's uphill in the short-term (struggle that is)
Vertex is nearly a year behind schedule on all of its programs, its stock is near its yearly low, and its AIDS drug will be the 8th or 9th on the market when and if it gets approved. So what does the board of directors do? They give Dr. Boger a $105,000.00 bonus on top of his $350,000.00 salary and options on 100,000 shares at $27.34/share (expiration 12/11/07).
He is a brillant scientist, but this company is not executing its business plan. The annual report even mentions they are behing schedule. Eloquent science, but really nothing to show for it after nine years. This company is looking more like a research botique than a focused enterprise. The report about the penetration of the central nervous system is nearly two years old. Vertex talks about twice daily dosing. Gilead's Preveon is a once a day dose, showed a four log reduction in viral load in phase III trials, will be priced at approximately $2,000.00/ year as opposed to the $7-14,000.00 dollar expense of protease inhibitors, and is also effective against HBV and cytomegalovirus. They have gone from phase I to near phase III completion in 18 months with their oral drug for flu. Adefovir showed a 4log reduction in HBV, is effective against 3tc resistant strains of HepB, is once a day, and addresses a worldwide market of 300,000,000 people worldwide. I love the science of this company, but am really concerned about their repeatedly missing their milestones. Plus, why would you reward a chief executive for such lousy performance. Perhaps he is over-extended. Anyone agree or disagree?
It seems everyone is having difficulty. In contrast to other proteases, the catalytic pocket for HCV is considered shallow. This makes for difficultly in designing anti-protease small molecules. More difficult than HIV protease, for example. Agouron is probably in the same boat, except they may in fact be at a slight disadvantage. Their structure of the NS3 protease does not contain NS4A, which is a cofactor for protease activity. Naturally 4A is present, which implies that the Agouron structure is less than ideal. Betting on HepC is a gamble. It has a tremondous payout if someone gets lucky, but that remains to be seen. It is also worth considering that HepC like HIV is likely to need a multidrug combo to be effective. So there could be many players in the market. SP is trying to keep their therapeutic market for HepC treatment; they have ribovirun just recently added to alpha interferon. They would love to add a protease inhibitor or another anti-viral. So, watch those bets...
Thank you for your obviously knowledgeable post on a difficult subject. First, do you have any thoughts on Gilead's progress in this area? I also thought that you might like to listen to the conference "Beyond Monotherapy: Emerging Therapies in Hepatitis C". This and many other interesting developments in hep C are available at: