Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s founder and chief executive officer Joshua Boger will retire May 23, the company said, Bloomberg reported.
Boger will be succeeded by Matthew Emmens, 57, a company director since 2004, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Vertex said today in a statement. Emmens left Shire Plc as chief executive officer in June.
Boger, 57, is leaving Vertex as the company nears the finish line for human tests of its leading experimental product, the hepatitis C treatment telaprevir. The company expects to file for regulatory approval of the drug in the second half of 2010, according to company spokeswoman Patricia Farrell. Vertex shares climbed 66 percent in the past 12 months, topping the 136-member Nasdaq Biotech Index, which fell 4.7 percent.
"We view Vertex as a relatively safe mid-cap biotech with a drug that has blockbuster potential and is also a possible acquisition target for big pharma," Brian Abrahams, an analyst with Oppenheimer & Co. in New York, said in a telephone interview. Oppenheimer has a neutral rating on the stock.
Analysts are projecting sales of $764 million for Vertex in 2011, presumably the first year that telaprevir would reach the market if approved, according to Bloomberg estimates. Telaprevir is in the third and final round of clinical trials generally required for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.
Vertex rose 57 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $33.96 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.
Emmens remains non-executive chairman of U.K.-based Shire, a specialty pharmaceutical company whose biggest product is Adderall XR, a treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder that had more than $1 billion in sales in 2007.