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Vertex to Sell 1.5 Million Shares

dollarsdrugsVertex Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of small molecule drugs, has been busy raising cash to prepare for the launch of telaprevir to treat hepatitis C. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company announced plans to sell 11.5 million shares of common stock. The shares are priced at $38.50 apiece, for total gross proceeds of $442.8 million. Vertex has also granted the underwriters an option to purchase up to an additional 1.5 million shares of stock on the same terms and conditions. Vertex has spent much of the past year engaged in fundraising efforts. Xconomy reports that Vertex raised $313 million from investors in February, $105 million in July through an amended deal on telaprevir in Japan, and in September, $155 million in debt financing through two deals involving the potential commercialization of telaprevir in Europe. Last month, Vertex eliminated $109 million in debt by offering noteholders the opportunity to convert their holdings into stock. Vertex is taking advantage of a recent increase in stock prices. Shares have been trading up 30 percent since the beginning of the year, due in part to investor confidence in telaprevir. With the latest offering, Vertex will have around $1 billion in its coffers. Vertex's pipeline includes treatments for the HIV virus, cystic fibrosis, cancer and hepatitis C. In November, the company announced that telaprevir, when combined with currently available hepatitis C treatments, caused the virus to become undetectable in 80 percent of patients in a midstage clinical trial.

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