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Vertex Begins Trial of Telaprevir for Treatment-naive Chronic Hepatitis C Patients

SUMMARY: Vertex Pharmaceuticals announced this week that partner Tibotec is starting a new multinational Phase 3 clinical trial of its investigational hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease inhibitor telaprevir for previously untreated patients with HCV genotype 1. The OPTIMIZE study will evaluate twice-daily telaprevir in combination with pegylated interferon alpha-2a (Pegasys) plus ribavirin. Much of the research on the drug to date has looked at 3-times-daily dosing in people who did not achieve sustained response with a prior course of interferon-based therapy.

Below is an excerpt from a recent Vertex press release describing the new study.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Announces Start of a
Phase 3b Study of Twice-Daily Telaprevir
in People Not Treated Previously for Hepatitis C

First Phase 3 study to evaluate twice-daily (BID) dosing of
  a protease inhibitor for hepatitis C

All patients will receive telaprevir-based combination therapy

Cambridge, Mass. -- October 25, 2010 -- Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (Nasdaq: VRTX) today announced the initiation of a Phase 3b study called OPTIMIZE that will evaluate twice-daily (BID) dosing of a telaprevir-based combination regimen in people chronically infected with genotype 1 hepatitis C virus (HCV) who have not been treated previously. This is the first Phase 3 study to evaluate twice-daily dosing of a protease inhibitor for the treatment of hepatitis C. OPTIMIZE will not include a control arm of pegylated-interferon and ribavirin alone.

"The sustained viral response rates, or viral cures, seen across a broad range of people in the Phase 3 studies of telaprevir set a high bar in the development of treatments for hepatitis C, and we are committed to studying new ways to further improve treatment," said Robert Kauffman, MD, PhD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Vertex. "High viral cure rates were demonstrated in the Phase 2 study of twice-daily telaprevir and we're looking forward to conducting a larger study to confirm these findings."

The OPTIMIZE study will be conducted by Vertex's collaborator, Tibotec.

OPTIMIZE Study Design

In Vertex's recently completed Phase 3 registration program, patients who received telaprevir in combination with pegylated-interferon and ribavirin took telaprevir three times daily (750 mg; every eight hours). OPTIMIZE is a randomized, open-label, Phase 3b study that will evaluate twice-daily dosing (BID) of telaprevir in people chronically infected with genotype 1 HCV who have not been treated previously. The study will be conducted globally at 135 clinical trial sites and enroll approximately 700 people. Patient screening for enrollment in the OPTIMIZE study is expected to start in November 2010.

For the first 12 weeks of the study, all patients will receive 2,250 mg of telaprevir taken twice daily (1,125 mg; BID) or three times daily (750 mg; every eight hours) in combination with pegylated-interferon alpha-2a (Pegasys) and twice-daily ribavirin. Response guided therapy will be used to determine whether patients receive pegylated-interferon and ribavirin alone for an additional 12 weeks (24 weeks total) or 36 weeks (48 weeks total) based on their treatment response at week 4. The primary endpoint of the OPTIMIZE study is sustained viral response (SVR) 24 weeks after the end of all treatment. The primary objective is to demonstrate non-inferiority of BID telaprevir versus telaprevir dosed every eight hours as measured by SVR.

SVR data from the study are expected as early as 2012. If these data are positive, they may support the submission of a supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for twice-daily (BID) dosing of telaprevir.

Phase 2 C208 study

Study C208 was an exploratory, four-arm, randomized, open label, Phase 2 clinical trial that was conducted by Tibotec in Europe in 161 treatment-naive patients with genotype 1 HCV infection. The objective of Study C208 was to explore the safety, efficacy, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of telaprevir administered every 12 hours (1,125 mg) or every eight hours (750 mg). Each dosing regimen of telaprevir was studied in combination with either Pegasys or PegIntron and ribavirin, the currently approved therapies for chronic HCV infection.

Across the four arms, SVR rates were 82% and 83% in patients treated with telaprevir-based regimens every 12 hours (PegIntron and Pegasys, respectively) and 81% and 85% in patients treated with the every 8-hour regimen (PegIntron and Pegasys, respectively). The primary endpoint was SVR, and data from this study were presented at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). The Phase 2 C208 data supported the initiation of the Phase 3b OPTIMIZE study.

In the C208 study, the frequency and severity of adverse events (AEs) and the rate of treatment discontinuations were similar to those reported in prior telaprevir trials. The rates of viral breakthrough were similar to the every 8- and every 12-hour regimens. The most common adverse events reported in patients in Study C208 were pruritis, nausea, rash, anemia, flu-like illness, fatigue and headache, and were similar overall between the patient groups receiving every 8-hour dosing and those receiving every 12-hour dosing.

Updates on the status of clinical trials of telaprevir are available online at

About the Telaprevir Development Program

To date, more than 2,500 people with hepatitis C have received telaprevir-based therapy as part of Phase 2 studies and the Phase 3 ADVANCE, ILLUMINATE, and REALIZE studies. Together, these studies enrolled people with genotype 1 hepatitis C who had not been treated for their disease previously (ADVANCE and ILLUMINATE) as well as people who had been treated before but did not achieve a viral cure (REALIZE). A fact sheet on the Phase 3 Telaprevir Development Program is available at

Phase 3 ADVANCE Trial

The pivotal Phase 3 ADVANCE study evaluated telaprevir-based response-guided regimens in 1,095 treatment-naive patients. The primary endpoint of ADVANCE was SVR, defined as the proportion of people who had undetectable HCV RNA both at the end of treatment and 24 weeks after the end of treatment. The secondary endpoint was to evaluate the safety of telaprevir when dosed in combination with pegylated-interferon and ribavirin. As part of a response-guided design, people in the telaprevir-based treatment arms who had undetectable HCV RNA (< 25 IU/mL, and undetectable by Roche COBAS Taqman HCV test) at weeks 4 and 12 of treatment were eligible to receive a total of 24 weeks of therapy. Patients who did not meet the response-guided criterion but were undetectable at week 24, received 48 weeks of total therapy.

Phase 3 ILLUMINATE Trial

The ILLUMINATE trial was a supplemental, open-label, Phase 3 study designed to evaluate whether there was any benefit in extending therapy from 24 to 48 weeks in people whose hepatitis C was undetectable (< 25 IU/mL undetectable) at weeks 4 and 12 of therapy. The primary endpoint of the study was the proportion of people who achieved SVR in the randomized treatment groups, and evaluated by a non-inferiority analysis.

Phase 3 REALIZE Trial

REALIZE was the second Phase 3 pivotal trial designed to evaluate telaprevir-based regimens in people who had received pegylated-interferon based therapy but did not achieve a cure. REALIZE was the only Phase 3 clinical trial to date of an investigational direct-acting antiviral (DAA) to include all major subgroups of difficult-to-treat patients including null responders, defined as people who had a less than 2 log10 reduction in viral load by week 12 of a prior course of therapy.

Vertex retains commercial rights to telaprevir in North America. Tibotec has rights to commercialize telaprevir in Europe, South America, Australia, the Middle East and certain other countries. Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma has rights to commercialize telaprevir in Japan and certain Far East countries.

About Vertex

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated is a global biotechnology company committed to the discovery and development of breakthrough small molecule drugs for serious diseases. The company's strategy is to commercialize its products both independently and in collaboration with major pharmaceutical companies. Vertex's product pipeline is focused on viral diseases, cystic fibrosis, inflammation, autoimmune diseases, epilepsy, cancer and pain.


Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Vertex Pharmaceuticals Announces Start of a Phase 3b Study of Twice-Daily Telaprevir in People Not Treated Previously for Hepatitis C. Press release. October 25, 2010.






















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