Hepatitis C drugs like Vertex's Incivek are quickly becoming a thing of the past. A new generation of easier-to-tolerate, interferon-free treatments like Gilead's Sovaldi is moving in, and Vertex's fourth-quarter revenues showed it. But a hefty one-time royalty payment helped the company turn a profit, even despite plummeting sales of Incivek--one of just two drugs it currently has on the market.
A new report starkly illustrates how quickly things can change in the pharma industry, showing how a drug darling becomes a market dud.
Let's face it: When it comes to new drug approvals, projected blockbuster revenue is one of the sexiest aspects of the story. So when Biogen Idec's new Tecfidera was approved for multiple sclerosis, the main competition was seen in bidding up what the drug is likely to bring in for the Boston-based biotech. And the numbers soared to full mega-blockbuster status.
EvaluatePharma researchers totted up sales for the last 5 years' worth of analysts' blockbuster picks--and found plenty of bad bets.
Cambridge, MA-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals says it nailed solid mid-stage data for VX-787, an experimental influenza drug in a new class of medications that promises to prevent the virus from replicating. And the biotech added that it will be in hot pursuit of a new collaboration on the drug.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals ($VRTX) watched its once-high-flying hepatitis C drug go into a nosedive for the fourth quarter. Incivek sales plummeted by 51% to $222.8 million, as fewer new patients elected to start therapy.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals has some serious news about its hepatitis C drug Incivek: Some patients have died from serious skin reactions. The treatment, approved last year, was known to cause rash and skin reactions in some people, but this is the first time Vertex has reported deaths from those reactions.
The evolution of hepatitis C treatment threatens to leave today's dominant companies with fossilized offerings. Vertex and Merck have the state-of-the-art approved drugs against the virus, but both companies are chasing after Gilead Sciences, Abbott Laboratories and others with programs that could be the first to win market approval with pill-only options. Read the full report >>
But collaborations with GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson to test combos of its next generation interferon-free hep C drugs saved the day for the company.
Vertex has forecast about $1.25 billion in sales for Incivek this year. But with hepatitis C patients already starting to defer therapy as they wait for new and far better drugs to come, the biotech is looking for a marquee-level partner or two to collaborate with on a next-gen cocktail that can keep the money flowing.