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Hep C Drug Updates: Vertex and Anadys

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX - Get Report) shares are rebounding Thursday on speculation that prescription growth of its hepatitis C drug Incivek may not be flattening as much as previously feared.

Anadys Pharmaceuticals (ANDS) also released Thursday new mid-stage data on its experimental Hep C drug setrobuvir, which the company hopes will re-ignite partnership talks. More on Anadys in a moment, first let's tackle Vertex and the case of the missing Incivek mail-order scripts…

Wednesday night, IMS Health issued a bulletin to subscribers explaining that a "significant portion" of mail-order prescription data for Incivek was not reported correctly for the last two weeks of September. IMS used historical mail-order data as a replacement, but the research service conceded that the Incivek prescription numbers reported as a result may not have been entirely accurate.

And those IMS numbers have shown Vertex's Incivek prescription growth flat for September, which had investors worried about what was happening following the drug's rocket-like launch this spring. If Incivek prescriptions remain on this flat trend-line, meeting sales expectations for the rest of 2011, and more importantly 2012, could be difficult.

This explains why Vertex's stock price has been so weak lately.

Unless, of course, IMS' prescription data for Incivek, which much of the Street reads on a weekly basis, is totally screwed up and has been under-counting what's really going on with Incivek.

IMS has fixed the problem of the missing mail-order data and will announce a detailed update on Monday, Oct. 17. It's possible that IMS is actually over-counting Incivek prescriptions but on Thursday at least, investors were hopeful and betting that Incivek's numbers are actually better than what's been previously reported.

Hence, Vertex shares are up $2.65, or 6.5%, to $42.91 Thursday.

Vertex, itself, will release actual third-quarter Incivek sales when the company reports earnings on Oct. 27.

Moving to Anadys: The new setrobuvir results from a phase IIb study announced Thursday look okay from an efficacy and safety perspective but the data aren't going to prompt investors to scream "wow" like they are when Pharmasset says anything about its experimental Hep C drugs.
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