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For This Stock, 2 Drugs Are Better Than 1

Brian Orelli
September 25, 2012

It's likely going to take a cocktail of drugs to fight hepatitis C, but you need only one from each class of drugs. Attacking the virus from multiple angles is the way to go.

So it's a good thing that Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: VRTX  ) licensed two hepatitis C drugs from Alios BioPharma, because only one of them made it past the critical phase 1 clinical trial. Vertex is dropping development of ALS-2158 after it failed to produce enough antiviral activity to justify taking it further into the clinic.

The other drug that Vertex got in the deal, ALS-2200, which it's calling VX-135, looks much better. We already saw solid data from a phase 1 trial by itself, and yesterday Vertex followed that up with data from patients that took ALS-2200 with ribavirin, a generic antiviral drug. The median reduction in virus levels for the combination therapy wasn't quite as good as the group that got ALS-2200 alone, but the percent of pat