Vertex tops Q1 profit estimates on robust demand for cystic fibrosis treatments

By Pratik Jain

(Reuters) -Vertex Pharmaceuticals beat Wall Street estimates for first-quarter profit on Monday, driven by robust uptake for its blockbuster cystic fibrosis treatments.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) – an inherited disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs – affects an estimated 105,000 people across 94 countries, according to data from U.S.-based CF Foundation.

Vertex reported adjusted earnings per share of $4.76 on revenue of $2.69 billion, topping market estimates $4.06 on revenue of $2.58 billion, according to LSEG data, for the quarter ended March 31.

The drugmaker reiterated its annual revenue forecast of between $10.55 billion and $10.75 billion.

The total product revenue guidance includes expectations around contribution in the second half of the year from the commercial launch of Casgevy in approved indications and geographies, CFO Charles Wagner said on an earnings conference call.

The Boston, Massachusetts-based company’s gene therapy, branded as Casgevy, earlier this year earned a second U.S. approval to treat a rare blood disorder requiring regular blood transfusions, after it was greenlighted in December for sickle cell disease.

As of mid-April, Vertex said it activated more than 25 authorized treatment centers globally and multiple patients across all regions, where it has approval, have initiated cell collection. Five patients have already had cells collected.

The company co-developed Casgevy with Swiss-American firm CRISPR Therapeutics.

The gene therapy maker also signed multiple agreements with both commercial and government health insurance providers in the U.S. to provide access to Casgevy.

“In the U.S. commercial market, we have contracts in place for over 200 million lives or nearly 65% of total lives”, Vertex COO Stuart Arbuckle said.

“In the government Medicaid sector, we have policies in place or active contract negotiations ongoing with 18 states and in the meantime all states have confirmed their intent to provide case-by-case coverage”, Arbuckle added.

(Reporting by Pratik Jain and Sriparna Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)