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Vertex buys 2 hepatitis drugs for $377m

Associated Press / March 4, 2009
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CAMBRIDGE - Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. said yesterday that 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 for the drugs, along with 9.9 million shares of its stock.

The company's shares closed at $27.96 yesterday, 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.

In aftermarket trading, Vertex shares were unchanged at $27.96.

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