It was a busy news day for Vertex Print E-mail
By Jamie Tera & Wire Reports   
Thursday, 01 October 2009 06:49

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (Nasdaq: VRTX) released several news items before finally hitting investors with a forecast that shows a wider 2009 loss. The company also said it raised $155 million by issuing new debt and selling the rights to milestone payments for its hepatitis C drug candidate telaprevir.

Vertex said it now expects to lose $650 million this year, or $535 million excluding one-time items. The company previously forecast a loss of $515 million to $515 million, or $400 million to $435 million if one-time costs were left out.

In a separate statement, the company said it will receive $120 million for issuing notes repayable by Oct. 31, 2012, which will be worth a total of $155 million when repaid. It will also get $35 million in return for selling the rights to telaprevir development milestone payments in Europe, which are worth up to $95 million.

The telaprevir milestone payments will be made by Janssen Pharmaceutica, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, assuming the drug is launched. Vertex said it now expects to have approximately $800 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities at the end of 2009, up from about $700 million.

Vertex plans to start a midstage study of its drug candidate VX-509 as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

The company said the 12-week trial will enroll about 200 patients and start in the first quarter of 2010. The study will compare VX-509 to a placebo, and Vertex expects interim data on the drug's safety, tolerability and effects by mid-2010.

Vertex also said that executive Kurt Graves will leave the company on Friday. Graves is Vertex's chief commercial officer and the head of strategic development. He joined company in July 2007.

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