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Vertex Hep C Drug Cures 80% at New Dose: Study

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- More than 80% of hepatitis C patients were cured after treatment with a new twice-daily dose of the experimental drug telaprevir made by Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX), according to data from a phase II study released Saturday.

Data from the new study demonstrates that a more convenient twice-daily dose of telaprevir is just as effective and safe as the thrice-daily dose, Vertex said.

The hepatitis C cure rates of greater than 80% across all four patient groups of the study are also the highest ever recorded in any telaprevir study to date and exceed the cure rates reported in separate studies of boceprevir, a competing hepatitis C drug under development by Schering-Plough (SGP).

Generally speaking, investors were looking for telaprevir cure rates of greater than 70%, with a difference between the twice-daily and three-times-daily dosing group of 10% or less. The data from the telaprevir study exceeded those expectations on both measures.

"These data greatly enhance the potential for twice-daily telaprevir dosing," said Vertex chief medical officer Bob Kauffman.

Vertex and partner Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) will formally present data from this new telaprevir study -- dubbed "C208" -- Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease, a large gathering of hepatitis C researchers.

Investors are keenly interested in the outcome of the C208 study because it has the potential to strengthen telaprevir against competing hepatitis C drugs that while still in earlier stages of testing are being dosed once or twice a day.

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