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March 4, 2009

Vertex Grows HCV Pipeline with Purchase of ViroChem

  • Vertex Pharmaceuticals decided to acquire ViroChem Pharma for $100 million in cash plus 9.9 million shares. The transaction will add three clinical-stage polymerase inhibitors for HCV treatment.

    Vertex reports that it will now be able to advance its strategy to pursue novel combinations of specifically targeted antiviral therapies for hepatitis C (STAT-Cs). ViroChem’s three candidates are nonnucleoside inhibitors of the HCV NS5B. VCH-759 and VCH-916 are in Phase IIa trials, while VCH-222 is in a Phase I study. ViroChem also has a preclinical program directed at the discovery of novel HCV NS5a inhibitors.

    Vertex expects to begin clinical evaluation of novel combination regimens of its HCV protease inhibitor telaprevir, currently in Phase III development, in the second half of 2009.

    “We selected ViroChem’s compounds following careful evaluation of the STAT-C landscape for more than a year,” points out Kurt C. Graves, evp, CCO, and head, strategic development at Vertex. “Key data has emerged that suggest that these compounds could uniquely complement telaprevir and provide a foundation for shaping a potentially new treatment paradigm.”

    Vertex plans to conduct additional dose-ranging studies of VCH-222 as a single agent and in combination with pegylated interferon and ribavirin.

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