Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. reported a larger first-quarter loss Tuesday as it awaits regulators' decision on its experimental hepatitis C drug candidate.
The company said it plans to use the name Incivek for the drug, which was developed under the name telaprevir. On Thursday, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended that Incivek be approved. The FDA is scheduled to make a binding decision by May 23. Incivek is expected to become a leading treatment for hepatitis C if it is approved. The FDA panelists said it appeared to raise the cure rate for hepatitis C to almost 80 percent, compared with 40 percent with current therapies.
Vertex said its first-quarter loss totaled $176.1 million, or 87 cents per share. In the first quarter of 2010 it reported a smaller loss of $165.3 million, or 83 cents per share. Its revenue more than tripled to $73.7 million from $22.4 million after it received a $50 million milestone payment from Janssen Phamaceutica NV, its partner on Invicek. Janssen is a unit of Johnson & Johnson.
Analysts expected a larger loss of $1.06 per share and revenue of $25.1 million, according to FactSet.
Vertex's research and development costs edged up 11 percent to $158.6 million as it continued other studies of Incivek and other drug candidates, including its cystic fibrosis treatment VX-770. Its sales costs doubled to $71.5 million as it prepared for the potential launch of Incivek. The company said it has hired about 200 employees to support the U.S. launch of Incivek, including 115 therapeutic specialists and others.
Shares of Vertex fell 31 cents to $57.74 on Tuesday. The stock lost 22 cents to $54.52 in aftermarket trading.