Less Is More for Vertex

Maybe Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: VRTX  ) should have waited a couple of more days before choosing to raise more cash through a dilutive financing. Vertex's shares have now risen by more than 20% since its Wednesday announcement of further results from clinical trials of its potential hepatitis C compound, telaprevir.

The clinical trial data Vertex released this week came from several phase 2 studies of telaprevir, conducted ahead of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases medical conference in early November. The most important tidbit from Vertex and its telaprevir marketing partner, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) , was the preliminary results from a short four-week study, showing that telaprevir is just as effective given at a higher dose twice a day as if it's given at a lower dosage three times a day.

That's a big deal, because it's been shown that patients are better at taking medicine when they have to take it less often. And if patients don't take their compounds as prescribed, serious complications can arise, especially with infectious diseases.

Until this result came out, a drawback of telaprevir was that some of its future potential hepatitis C antiviral competitors -- from drugmakers such as InterMune and Schering-Plough (NYSE: SGP  ) -- worked well as twice-a-day therapies. Now Vertex can say the same thing. Fewer times, same results, better deal.

This result is important for both telaprevir and Vertex's future. Because telaprevir is Vertex's lead drug, the stock price will shift as the drug's fortunes do.

Vertex and InterMune are active picks of our Rule Breakers newsletter service. You can check out all of our other recommendations as well as get access to our message boards and exclusive content with a 30-day free trial.

Fool contributor Brian Lawler owns no shares of any company mentioned in this article. Johnson & Johnson is an Income Investor pick. The Fool has an A-plus disclosure policy.


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