The house that hepatitis built

…with $11.8  million from Boston taxpayers.

The Globe today reports that the biotech firm Vertex plans to build a $2 billion waterfront tower in Boston.

Vertex yesterday signed a letter of intent to relocate its headquarters from Cambridge to the Fan Pier complex in late 2013. The 23-acre development has just one tower now, but is slated to have eight buildings of offices, residences, stores, and hotel rooms, as well as parks and a marina…

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, and the company has not yet signed the lease. The lease is contingent on an unusual clause: Vertex must receive federal approval of its first major in-house commercial drug, telaprevir, a treatment for hepatitis C. US regulators are expected to act on the company’s application by June.

Maybe Bostonians will get a deal on telaprevir, which might end up being the $2 billion molecule. Or the possible new mega insurance company, also a topic on the Globe’s front page, might be able to negotiate a discount.

The state’s second- and third-largest health plans, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan, are set to tell their employees today that they are exploring a merger that would reshape the region’s health insurance landscape…

“There has been tremendous value in having three strong locally based health plans in terms of choices for consumers,’’ said Nancy C. Turnbull, associate dean at the Harvard School of Public Health and a former deputy insurance commissioner. “But on the other hand, this could create a consolidated plan that could create a stronger competitor to Blue Cross and it could create a plan that has stronger leverage than either of them individually in negotiating with providers.’’

From the CDC

Hepatitis C
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
No. of Acute Clinical Cases Reported a
878
849
802
694
758
891
Estimated No. of Acute Clinical Cases b
2,900
2,800
3,200
3,400
4,200
4,500
Estimated No. of New Infections b (current)
18,000
17,000
19,000
21,000
26,000
28,000
Percent Ever Infected c
1.3% – 1.9%
Number of Persons Living with Chronic Infection d
2.7–3.9 million persons
Annual Number of Chronic Liver Disease Deaths associated with Viral Hepatitis e
12,000


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