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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Tuesday it bought two hepatitis C drug candidates from ViroChem Pharma Inc., and plans to test the drugs in combination with its own drug candidate telaprevir. Vertex will pay ViroChem $100 million in cash for the drugs, along with 9.9 million shares of its stock. The company's shares closed at $27.96 Tuesday, implying a value of $276.8 million for the stock and a total value of $376.8 million for the drugs. Based on laboratory tests, Vertex said a combination of telaprevir and the two drugs might be more effective against hepatitis C than telaprevir alone. The company said it plans to start a clinical study combining telaprevir with one of the ViroChem drugs in the second half of 2009. Hepatitis C is a viral liver disease that causes inflammation and can cause liver failure. Vertex is conducting late stage trials of telaprevir, but the ViroChem drugs are in early clinical development.
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