Will competition in Hep C drug market bring down costs? #hepatitis

Lots of health news emerges from investor events like this week’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. The Globe’s Robert Weisman reports this morning on competition for Cambridge-based (soon to be Boston-based) Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

SAN FRANCISCO – It was supposed to be a victory lap for Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. executives: their first appearance at the life sciences industry’s most important annual conclave since the Cambridge biotechnology company won long-sought approval of its potential blockbuster drug to treat hepatitis C.

But the Vertex team, including the departing chief executive and his newly appointed successor, was partly upstaged by an announcement on the eve of the 30th annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference that the giant drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. was entering the hepatitis C market.

Bristol-Myers said it will spend $2.5 billion to buy Inhibitex Inc., which is developing a next-generation hepatitis C treatment that will compete with two being developed by Vertex.

As he notes, the company’s stock price has dropped from $58.87 in May to $35.68 yesterday.

Will competition also bring the price of Telaprevir down?  The Globe reports that the drug will cost between $30,000 and $50,000 per treatment.

In the meantime, the company is building a new waterfron tower.The Globe also reports that the new headquarters will cost $2 billion. Boston will kick in a $11.8 million tax break, for the company, which is now located in Cambridge.

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