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Vertex posts profit but Incivek (telaprevir) sales decline

(Reuters) – Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc on Thursday reported lower-than-expected first-quarter profit and revenue as sales of its new hepatitis C drug Incivek (telaprevir) declined faster than anticipated.

Incivek had sales of $356.9 million, down from $456.8 million in the previous quarter and below Wall Street estimates of about $390 million.

That gives the drug, which has helped to double cure rates for the serious liver disease over older treatments, cumulative sales of about $1.3 billion since its approval last May, making it the fastest drug to eclipse $1 billion in sales in pharmaceutical history.

The swift decline would suggest that early pent-up demand has been satisfied or that some patients are beginning to wait for new all-oral treatment regimens with fewer side effects that are being developed by several companies, including Vertex.

Vertex maintained its full-year forecast for Incivek sales of $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion.