Vertex will face an expert panel review of telaprevir on Thursday, but it is already acting as if a favorable vote has been taken. Unlike Merck, which has a major marketing arm in place, Vertex has been building up its infrastructure as it confidently goes about the business of readying a blockbuster sales effort to roll out the hepatitis C drug.
In a profile, the Boston Globe notes that the company's workforce has swelled by 25 percent in a little more than a year, hitting 1,800 after the company outlined plans to hire on 500 workers back in February. Vertex has also blueprinted a new headquarters building to facilitate its growing ambitions, which have been fed by upbeat results for another development program it has underway for cystic fibrosis.
"Vertex's plan has always been to be a fully capable company, and that's still the plan,'' company founder Joshua Boger tells the Boston Globe. "This is the fulfillment of that aspiration.''
CEO Matthew Emmens also wasn't waiting for the FDA to crown the company's 22 year effort to reach this point. He already calls this the "golden era" in Vertex history. "Some of the best researchers in the world are here, and we're building a commercial presence. You've got millions of patients waiting for a drug that can save their life.''
As Xconomy's Luke Timmerman notes, Vertex has good reason to believe that its 16-year effort on telaprevir will be met with success-both at the panel stage as well as in an ultimate agency approval. In clinical trials the drug significantly improved on the current standard for a cure, with the period of flu-like effects cut in half. Analysts believe that telaprevir will likely emerge as the favorite of the two hep C drugs now up for an approval.