Vertex Falls as Analyst Cuts Hep C Sales Estimate: Boston Mover

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (VRTX) fell the most in seven weeks after an analyst with Leerink Swann & Co. cut sales estimates for a hepatitis C pill made by the company that was approved by U.S. regulators last year.

Vertex’s Incivek, among the first new hepatitis C drugs to reach the market in almost a decade, may be eclipsed by new pill-only treatments with fewer side effects and shorter courses of treatment. Incivek is given with interferon, an injected medicine. Merck & Co.’s similar pill, Victrelis, was also approved last year.

Shares of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Vertex fell 3.5 percent to $34.74 at the close in New York, their biggest one- day drop since Dec. 8.

Howard Liang, an analyst with Leerink Swann in Boston, reduced his sales forecast for Incivek by 35 percent from $2.3 billion this year to $1.5 billion. Liang also cut his target price for Vertex shares from $66 to $48.

“In light of recent development of interferon-free regimens and likely more aggressive development as a result of recent transactions in the space, we are further curtailing the Incivek tail,” Liang said in a note to clients today.

Vertex had $420 million in revenue from Incivek in the third quarter of 2011. Revenue from the drug accounts for 64 percent of the company’s sales.

To contact the reporter on this story: Drew Armstrong in Washington at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net;

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

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