Vertex Pharmaceuticals' CEO Outlines Strategy for Growth

March 30, 2006
Patricia Van Arnum

Patricia Van Arnum was executive editor of Pharmaceutical Technology.

ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Vertex Pharmaceuticals? CEO Outlines Strategy for Growth

An innovation model that leverages in-house R&D and early-stage capabilities is critical for growth of small to medium-sized pharmaceutical companies, says one industry CEO.

"The 21st century pharmaceutical company is a networked pharma company," said Joshua Boger, chairman, president and CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated. (Cambridge, MA, www.vrtx.com). Boger addressed the annual luncheon meeting of the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (Washington, DC, www.socma.com), which was held in conjunction with DCAT Week, sponsored by the Drug, Chemical and Associated Technologies Association (DCAT, Robbinsville, NJ, www.dcat.org).

"The networked pharma company is dedicated to innovation and uses partnerships to augment late-stage development, sales and marketing, while leveraging research and early-development capabilities," said Boger, explaining that this model differs from the approach used by large pharma. "This model is networked to leverage product innovation capabilities," he said. "In contrast, Big Pharma is networked to leverage market access and market innovation capabilities. The large networked pharma company uses partnerships to augment research and development capabilities, while leveraging sales and marketing."

Vertex has used this networked model to focus on R&D and early-stage development for small molecules with a focus on viral infection, inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. It has collaborations with Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics Inc. (CFFT, Bethesda, MD, www.cff.org), GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK, London, England, www.gsk.com), Kissei Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. (Matsumoto, Japan, www.kissei.co.jp), Merck & Co. Inc. (Whitehouse Station, NJ, www.merck.com), Mitsubishi Pharma Corporation (Osaka, Japan, www.m-pharma.co.jp) and Novartis (Basel, Switzerland, www.novartis.com). It also co-promotes the HIV protease inhibitor Lexiva (fosamprenavir) with GSK.

Boger reported last week that Vertex received $13.3 million from CFFT to accelerate development of VX-770, an oral drug to treat cystic fibrosis. Vertex plans to begin clinical development in the second quarter 2006.

To illustrate Vertex's strategy of leveraging its R&D capabilities, Boger updated the status of its lead pipeline candidates. They include VX-950, a hepatitis C virus protease inhibitor, currently in Phase II development. Vertex collaborates with Mitsubishi Pharma on the development and commercialization of VX-950 in Japan and certain Far East countries. Vertex expects to initiate Phase III trials as early as 2007 and to file a new drug application as early as 2008 for the drug. Another lead product is VX-702, a p38 MAP kinase inhibitor, currently in Phase II development to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Kissei Pharmaceutical has exclusive rights to VX-702 in Japan and certain Southeast Asian countries. In addition, Vertex and GSK are developing brecanavir, an HIV protease inhibitor. 

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