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Business

Vertex Acquires Virochem Pharma

by Lisa M. Jarvis
March 9, 2009 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 87, ISSUE 10

Vertex Pharmaceuticals has agreed to pay roughly $375 million in cash and stock for ViroChem Pharma, a privately held, Montreal-based biotech firm founded in 2004 with technology acquired from Shire BioChem. The deal adds two polymerase inhibitors—VCH-222, in Phase Ia trials, and VCH-759, in Phase IIa trials—to Vertex’ hepatitis C virus (HCV) drug pipeline. Both compounds have shown promise in reducing the level of HCV RNA in plasma, and Vertex believes they could be a nice complement to its HCV protease inhibitor, telaprevir, which is in Phase III trials. Vertex is attempting to improve the performance and extend the life cycle of telaprevir by combining it with other agents. The firm expects to begin studying the effects of combining it with VCH-222 and VCH-759 in the second half of this year.

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