September 20, 2011 / 2:46 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-Vertex, J&J hepatitis C drug gets EU nod

Sept 20 (Reuters) - Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc (VRTX.O) and partner Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) won European approval for their hepatitis C drug, Vertex said on Tuesday.

The pill, which won U.S. approval in May, raked in strong sales of $75 million in the first five weeks it was sold in the country. Known as Incivek in the United States, it will be called Incivo in Europe.

J&J has European rights to the product, with Vertex receiving royalties. Vertex holds exclusive rights to the drug in the United States.

Also known as telaprevir, Incivek can nearly double the chances of curing hepatitis C, a serious liver disease, compared with prior standard treatments.

Approval for the drug in Europe was expected after the European Medicines Agency recommended it in July.

“The European approval and its timing were in line with our expectations,” Wells Fargo Securities analyst Brian Abrahams wrote in a note to clients.

    He expects Incivek sales to exceed market expectations in the second half of 2011.

    Shares of Vertex were up 2.2 percent at $51.30 in morning trade on Tuesday on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Anand Basu in New York, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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