Why Vertex Pharmaceuticals Stock Topped the Market Today

Good news from the lab sparked a mini-rally in Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX 2.35%) stock on Tuesday. The biotech’s shares closed the trading session more than 2% higher in price, which was good enough to top the flat-lining S&P 500 index. One of the company’s investigational drugs is showing decent promise in a clinical trial.

Pain drug meets primary endpoint in study

Vertex announced that its VX-548, a non-opioid medication aimed at treating moderate to severe acute pain, met its primary endpoint in a phase 3 trial involving patients with a wide range of pain conditions.

The biotech said that the treatment met its primary endpoint, which was a notable reduction in pain across a 48-hour period. That was the good news; the bad is that VX-548 failed to meet its secondary endpoint of reducing pain more significantly than a combination of acetaminophen — used in over-the-counter treatments such as Tylenol — and hydrocodone, an opioid.

Vertex added that the drug demonstrated favorable safety and tolerability in the study. All told, roughly 2,400 patients were involved in the trial.

An effective, non-opioid pain treatment would likely be highly successful if and when it hits the market. While opioid medications can be very effective, they carry the very serious risk of addiction if not prescribed and administered carefully.

A major step on the path to approval

In its press release on the trial, Vertex vowed to keep pushing to get the drug green-lighted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

CEO Reshma Kewalramani said, “With FDA Breakthrough and Fast Track Designations in hand, we are working with urgency to file the New Drug Application for VX-548 and bring this non-opioid medicine to the millions of patients who suffer from acute pain each year in the U.S.”

Eric Volkman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Vertex Pharmaceuticals. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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