Vertex's Incivek could top $1B this year, analyst says

Vertex Pharmaceuticals ($VRTX) is galloping ahead with its hepatitis C drug Incivek. So fast, in fact, that at least one analyst thinks the breakthrough treatment could top $1 billion this year, Forbes reports. And that's with only 222 days on the market.

Sanford C. Bernstein's Geoffrey Porges has taken his calculator to Incivek's sales numbers, extrapolating three different scenarios. If prescription growth stopped, then the drug would rack up $725 million by year's end. If script growth just drops off, Porges figures Incivek would still bring in $900 million. And if prescription numbers keep mounting at their current rate, the drug could hit $1.2 billion.

As Forbes' Matthew Herper points out, investors can look at third-quarter sales for a hint at which scenario is actually playing out. The no-growth-in-scripts scenario would yield Q3 sales of $345 million, while slow growth would lead to $410 million. At the current growth rate, quarterly sales should reach $458 million.

Any of these numbers would easily double the third-quarter projections analysts were making before Incivek blew its second-quarter sales estimates out of the water. Consensus estimates had pegged sales for the drug's first 5 weeks on the market at $31 million. Instead, Incivek brought in $75 million. What's more, the drug has gone on to outsell Merck's ($MRK) new hepatitis C treatment Victrelis at a 4-to-1 margin.

- read the Forbes post