Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

A Hep C Love Triangle

By Brian Orelli, PhD - Nov 1, 2012 at 3:49PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Vertex pairs up with GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson and Johnson.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX -0.07%) has found not one but two new beaus, although it's keeping the relationships casual.

For a disease like hepatitis C where combinations will be the new norm, getting in bed with as many players as possible is critical. Assuming of course you're not Gilead Sciences (GILD 0.97%) or Abbott Labs (ABT -1.94%), which have all the drugs they need to make a decent combination on their own.

Vertex doesn't. It has VX-135, which looks like it might be a decent nuc, but it needs to combine VX-135 with other drugs to reach the high cure rates Gilead and Abbott have put up.

Enter Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.71%) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK 0.31%). In separate deals, Vertex announced that it'll test VX-135 with Johnson & Johnson's simeprevir  and Glaxo's GSK2336805.

Simeprevir is a protease inhibitor that's in the same class as Vertex's already-approved Incivek. Vertex is hedging its bet with this partnership because it's generally assumed that the second-generation protease inhibitors will be better than Incivek and Merck's (MRK 0.62%) Victrelis.

Johnson & Johnson and Vertex will split the cost of the phase 2 trial scheduled to start early next year. Once they see that data, they'll presumably figure out a development plan because the current deal doesn't extend beyond the proof-of-concept study.

The deal with Glaxo has a similar structure. The companies will split the cost of a phase 2 proof-of-concept study combining VX-135 and NS5A inhibitor GSK2336805 with or without ribavirin, a generic drug. That pair is shooting for starting that trial early next year.

Left out in the cold is Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY 0.24%), which also has an NS5A inhibitor called daclatasvir. The drug worked well with Gilead's nuc GS-7977, so it's curious that Vertex went with Glaxo's NS5A inhibitor rather than daclatasvir.

Of course, considering that the deals seem pretty casual, Vertex might be able to partner with Bristol as well.

Love square, anyone?

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
$180.71 (0.71%) $1.27
GlaxoSmithKline plc Stock Quote
GlaxoSmithKline plc
$44.89 (0.31%) $0.14
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated Stock Quote
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated
$268.15 (-0.07%) $0.20
Merck & Co., Inc. Stock Quote
Merck & Co., Inc.
$94.41 (0.62%) $0.58
Abbott Laboratories Stock Quote
Abbott Laboratories
$112.80 (-1.94%) $-2.23
Bristol Myers Squibb Company Stock Quote
Bristol Myers Squibb Company
$76.89 (0.24%) $0.18
Gilead Sciences, Inc. Stock Quote
Gilead Sciences, Inc.
$64.28 (0.97%) $0.62

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 05/24/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.