UPDATE 2-Vertex 4th quarter loss grows with costs

* Q4 loss $0.79 excluding item vs Street view $0.85

* Sees 2010 net loss of $700 mln

* Shares unchanged
(Adds cash position, CFO comment, shares)

NEW YORK, Feb 4 (BestGrowthStock) – Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc
(VRTX.O: ) on Thursday reported a wider fourth-quarter loss on
costs associated with preparation for the launch of its closely
watched experimental hepatitis C treatment and other expenses.

The biotechnology company said it still plans to file its
application seeking U.S. approval of telaprevir in the second
half of this year. Analysts expect the drug to be approved in
2011 and provide a significant advance in the treatment of the
serious liver disease.

Vertex posted a net loss of $158 million, or 85 cents per
share, compared with a loss of $142.3 million, or 96 cents per
share, a year ago.

Excluding items, such as intangible asset impairment
charges, Vertex lost 79 cents a share. Analysts on average
expected a loss of 85 cents per share, according to Thomson
Reuters I/B/E/S.

For 2010 Vertex expects a net loss of $700 million. The
company expects research and development expense of $620
million to $640 million, including the cost of building its
prelaunch commercial supply of telaprevir.

“Our increased investment in launch preparation activities
for telaprevir is aimed at ensuring a rapid and successful
potential launch,” Chief Executive Matthew Emmens said in a

In clinical trials, telaprevir in combination with current
standard treatments has demonstrated far higher cure rates,
often with shorter necessary treatment duration, that the
standard drugs alone. It is expected to eventually garner
annual sales in excess of $1 billion.

Vertex, which is also developing promising treatments for
cystic fibrosis, said it began 2010 with about $1.3 billion in
its war chest from cash, cash equivalents and marketable

“As we near completion of the Phase 3 development program
for telaprevir, we are increasing our investment in critical
pre-launch activities, including building of product supply,
the further expansion of our commercial infrastructure and the
hiring of key employees to support the implementation of
commercial functions,” Chief Financial Officer Ian Smith said
in a statement.

Vertex shares were unchanged in after hours trading from
their Nasdaq close at $38.42.

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(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Gary Hill, Leslie

UPDATE 2-Vertex 4th quarter loss grows with costs