KEY TAKEAWAY: Vertex argues that a $250,000-per-year price for Orkambi is reasonable, even though that much money could buy health insurance for 14 families of four. Pharma says they need high prices to support research, but Vertex scheduled a half-billion-dollar stock buyback. Continue reading
From Pharma Times “As companies queued up to present piles of data on the new wave of hepatitis C drugs at the Liver Meeting in Washington DC, new research has revealed that 90% of doctors in the USA are holding off treating patients until more efficacious and tolerable new therapies become available. A study has been conducted by healthcare market pollster Research Partnership which reveals that, with over nine in ten doctors taking a wait-and-see stance, 51% of HCV patients eligible for care in the USA are not currently undergoing treatment. It notes that after two decades of “limited therapies offering low success rates and harsh side effects”, last year’s launches of Vertex’ Incivek (telaprevir) and Merck & Co’s Victrelis (boceprevir) “have been welcomed because they are more effective”.However, despite stellar revenues initially, sales of the two treatments are falling because they still need to be given with interferon, which causes the strongest side effects. Research Partnership notes that “the race is on for a number of pharmaceutical companies to release new interferon-free regimens, which are currently in the late stages of development and due to be released within the next 6-12 months”. Why didn’t this get caught by their market research?
Perhaps the people at Vertex are saying “I could have been a contender”. Vertex Pharmaceuticals had a brief moment in the sun with its hepatitis C drug, and now that it’s coming to an end, the company is making some big job cuts. What went wrong is a failure of key market research insights and a belief that the whole world would beat a path to their door when they launched the Hep-C drug. The end result is that Vertex is laying off 350 people because sales are below expectations. Continue reading