Vertex cuts 370 jobs as sales of its hepatitis C drug fall


US biotechnology firm will instead focus on future opportunities in cystic fibrosis medicines

US biotechnology firm Vertex Pharmaceuticals will axe 370 jobs globally, including 175 in Massachusetts, because sales of its hepatitis C drug Incivek are declining faster than initially anticipated.

The move will reduce the company\'s workforce by about 15% worldwide.

Vertex says it will instead focus on future opportunities in cystic fibrosis and other \'high-potential research and development programmes\'.

\'We have a tremendous opportunity to further transform the treatment of cystic fibrosis and advance our other promising research and development programmes,\' said Jeffrey Leiden, Chairman, President and CEO of Vertex.

He added: \'As new medicines for hepatitis C near approval, fewer people are starting treatment with Incivek, and as a result, we are reducing our workforce supporting this medicine.

\'Today is a difficult day for everyone at Vertex, but these changes are necessary as we work to develop new breakthrough medicines in the coming years.\'

Incivek faces competition from all-oral hepatitis C treatments developed by Abbvie, Bristol Myers Squibb and Gilead Sciences.

After the job cuts, Vertex expects to employ approximately 1,800 people worldwide, including around 1,300 in Massachusetts.

The changes to the workforce are expected to reduce operating expenses by US$150m to $200m in 2014.

Vertex said it expects full-year revenue to be in the range of $1bn to $1.05bn, down from its previous forecast of $1.1bn to $1.2bn.

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Founded in 1989 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Vertex today has research and development sites and commercial offices in the US, Europe, Canada and Australia.