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Vertex (VRTX) Initiates Phase II Study on Pain Candidate

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Vertex (VRTX - Free Report) announced that it has initiated a proof-of-concept phase II study for its investigational NaV1.8 inhibitor candidate VX-548 to treat acute pain following bunionectomy surgery. Data from this study is anticipated in first-quarter 2022.

VX-548 is an orally-administered selective NaV1.8 inhibitor using small molecules. The company is also anticipating to start another phase II study for treating acute pain in patients following abdominoplasty surgery in the coming weeks.

The phase II studies are based on positive data from phase I study, which demonstrated favorable safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetic profiles at doses considerably lower than those required with its previous NaV1.8 inhibitors.

Shares of Vertex have declined 15.7% so far this year in comparison with the industry’s 3.1% decrease.

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The primary endpoint of both the phase II studies is the time-weighted Sum of the Pain Intensity Difference over the first 48 hours of treatment. Further, the studies will evaluate multiple doses of the drug in patients with acute pain after bunionectomy surgery or abdominoplasty surgery and include a hydrocodone bitartrate/acetaminophen reference arm.

NaV1.8 is a genetically validated novel target to treat pain. Vertex is evaluating NaV1.8 inhibitors with the goal of preventing pain signals traveling from sensory nerves to the central nervous system.

We remind investors that VX-150, another small molecule investigational therapy being developed by Vertex, has also demonstrated clinical proof-of-concept studies to target NaV1.8 in multiple pain indications including acute pain, neuropathic pain and musculoskeletal pain. Vertex’s selective NaV1.8 inhibitors aim to provide superior relief to acute pain without the limitations of current therapies including additive opioid medications.

Zacks Rank & Other Stocks to Consider

Vertex currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Other top-ranked stocks in the biotech sector include 9 Meters Biopharma (NMTR - Free Report) , Agenus (AGEN - Free Report) and Biomarin Pharmaceutical (BMRN - Free Report) . While Biomarin sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), both 9 Meters and Agenus currently hold a Zacks Rank #2. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

9 Meters’ loss estimates for 2021 have narrowed from $0.16 to $0.14 per share in the past 60 days while that of 2022 have narrowed from $0.15 to $0.10 over the same period. The stock has risen 25.8% in the year so far.

Agenus’s loss estimates for 2022 have narrowed from $1.08 to $1.07 per share in the past 60 days. The stock has risen 72% in the year so far.

Biomarin’s earnings estimates for 2022 have increased from $2.33 to $2.35 per share in the past 60 days.