Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Next-Gen Hep C Drug Wars Update: Vertex Shines; 14.5 Million Shares Say So, In NASDAQ Afterhours

It would seem that Vertex's TelaprevirTM has effectively all but won the next-gen Hep C drug candidate battle -- against Merck's Boceprevir.

Merck's bocepreivr has posted nothing like these numbers on "true" null responders. The closest comparator study data set, out of Whitehouse Station is Merck's 65% on relapsers v. Vertex's 86% on relapsers. Um . . . Game. Over.

Here's Reuters on it all:

. . . .Among relapsers, the telaprevir-based regimen led to an 86 percent cure rate compared with 24 percent from standard drugs. There was a 57 percent telaprevir cure rate among the partial responders versus 15 percent in the control group.

In an analysis of the data with the null responders excluded telaprevir had a cure rate of 78 percent versus 21 percent for standard medicines, the company said.

Telaprevir, from a new class of hepatitis C treatments, is an antiviral drug that is expected to compete with a similar medicine being developed by Merck & Co (MRK.N) called boceprevir. But analysts have been virtually unanimous in their belief that telaprevir is the superior medicine.

In Merck's study of treatment failure patients that did not include null responders, boceprevir led to a 66 percent cure rate. . . .

Yes -- as many said last week (and I've said for almost two years) -- if this one were to come out better for Vertex, it would essentially be a wash-out, for another of New Merck's spending $49 billion for dubious Schering-Plough pipeline prospects.

Want more dispassionate proof? More than 14.5 million shares (about a whole day's worth of regular NYSE trading) changed hands in afterhours NASDAQ trading, just now (at the NYSE closing price). Seems they know what's what.

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