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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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May 18, 2005

Vertex Turns Over a Winner

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Posted by Derek

Vertex announced some impressive clinical data against hepatitis C the other day, which has been a fine thing for their stock price. It looks to be a fine thing for people infected with hepatitis as well, with better results than the current interferon therapy in a much shorter time.

I'd have to guess that the side effects are lower, too, interferons being rather powerful things. Schering-Plough and Roche have been beating each other silly in that market for years now - these results point to a future where they might each end up with a much lower market share. (If Vertex's drug works even better in combination with them, though, everyone might still do just fine.)

Other things being equal, or even in the neighborhood of equal, a small organic molecule is going to beat a biotech protein every time. They're easier and cheaper to make, and easier to store and dispense. And as for dosing, well, you can get orally active small molecules (like Vertex's) - try getting an orally active protein, and get back to me when you do. Mind you, it looks like Vertex's compound really has to be taken in mighty quantities (750 mg t.i.d., that is, three times a day), but anti-infectives often have to be hammered in like this. It's still surely going to be cheaper than interferon therapy.

Vertex being Vertex, I'm sure that there's a nice presentation about all the contributions that molecular modeling made to this compound's development. But I've no doubt that their large bunch of capable medicinal chemists made their mark on it, too. Congratulations to the lot of them!

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Infectious Diseases


1. schinderhannes on May 19, 2005 3:37 AM writes...

I know an orally active protein - is´s called prime rib and it´s active against a disease called hunger :-)

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2. Katherine on May 19, 2005 10:16 AM writes...

Mmmmm... prime rib...

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