Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Funnies: Schering Goofs Up the Convert Dividend Date; Separately Vertex is Cheered. . . .

Some snowy Friday trivia -- first, Schering whiffs on setting the next Mandatory Convertible Dividend Date (initially having chosen a bank holiday), so no one would be around to wire the dividends out. Sort of a metaphor for Schering's year overall, no? [But at least one way to save on cash-flow!] Take a look:

. . . .Schering-Plough today announced that the quarterly dividend payment of $3.75 per share on the 2007 Mandatory Convertible Preferred Stock will be made on Feb. 17, 2009, to holders of record at the close of business on Feb. 2, 2009. The previously reported payment date of Feb. 16, 2009, was changed to avoid a conflict with the President's Day holiday, which is a banking holiday. . . .

Now, from that -- the ridiculous -- to the sublime:

Mike Huckman, at CNBC, has a story tonight on Vertex's Teleprevir, wondering aloud whether it could sell for $75,000 a year, once approved. Apparently, the consensus is that it is a vast leapfrog over all existing candidates, on efficacy. You'll remember that this next generation Hep C treatment is soundly thrashing Schering's boceprevir week by week, and trial by trial.

What Mr. Huckman doesn't ask (nor did I expect that he would) -- is whether Vertex should charge that much. But I will.

For its part, Vertex "does not comment" on pricing strategies at this stage -- pre-FDA-approval -- but there is no indication from Vertex that it will ultimately hit the US market at such a high-price. Me? I would encourage the Johnson & Johnson-partner to make it as widely available as possible, as quickly as possible, for all those unfortunate souls suffering an incurable disease, after failing treatment on other medicines. It seems as many as half of them might be virus free, if they could take Teleprevir -- it is truly shaping up to be a wonder drug.

[Nota Bene: Investopedia points to one other possible competitor, Human Genome Sciences, in Phase III, tonight, here -- but as I understand it, that candidate is not showing the efficacy Teleprevir has, especially in non-naive Hep C patient trials.]

In any event, Boceprevir has not had nearly the impact on Hep C non-responders that Teleprevir is having. Which conclusion -- is the punchline -- for this post.


Anonymous said...

Albuferon is the Human Genome Sciences hepatitis drug. It is not a competitor of telaprevir, rather it could be complementary. It is a competitor to Schering's peg-intron and Roche's pegasys.

Condor said...

Anon -- Thanks for clearing that up.

I honestly hadn't gotten around to figuring out which drug candidate Investopedia was making referring to in the link.

In any event, Vertex's offering continues to look pretty sleek, here.