Bloomberg News

Vertex Shares Rise on Optimism for Higher Incivek Sales

October 13, 2011

(Updates shares in first and second paragraphs.)

Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., seller of the hepatitis C drug Incivek, rose the most in two months in New York trading after IMS Health Inc., a prescription-data company, said its report on sales of the medicine last month was incomplete.

Vertex, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, jumped 9.1 percent to $43.88 at 4 p.m., for its biggest jump since Aug. 9. IMS may have underestimated prescriptions for Incivek in its reports, said Mark Schoenebaum, an analyst at ISI Group in New York.

IMS data on the drug, approved by U.S. regulators in May, suggested sales had stopped growing last month, Schoenebaum said. IMS said in an e-mail yesterday that the figures it released for the last two weeks of September were adjusted based on estimates to account for missing data. The Norwalk, Connecticut-based company will reassess with actual sales.

“People are now thinking that maybe the trends weren’t quite as flat as everybody was thinking,” Schoenebaum said in a telephone interview.

Vertex shares had fallen 24 percent from Sept. 21 through yesterday. Incivek competes with Victrelis, a medicine made by Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck & Co. that was also approved for sale earlier this year.

Vertex had fallen “largely on the basis of fears about these script trends, so it makes sense that they will retrace a lot of that loss now,” said Geoffrey Porges, a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst in New York, in a telephone interview.

‘Significant Portion’

IMS said in an e-mail to clients that “a significant portion“ of Incivek mail-order data was not reported to the company for the weeks ending Sept. 23 and Sept. 30, leading it to adjust reports for those weeks by using previous mail-order results.

The company is receiving actual mail figures now, and expects to adjust last month’s numbers with real sales by Oct. 14, the e-mail said. Calls to IMS’s media office were not immediately returned today.

--Editors: Bruce Rule, Reg Gale

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Nussbaum in New York at anussbaum1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net;


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