Business

SEC says Vertex concerns are ‘being considered’

The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, responding to a US senator’s concerns about stock trades by executives at Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., said the matter was “being considered” by regulators.

Mary L. Schapiro, chairwoman of the SEC, wrote in a letter to Republican senator Charles Grassley of Iowa that the agency does not disclose whether it is investigating a company.

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“You can be assured, however, that the matters raised in your letter are being considered by the Commission and that all potential violations of the securities laws related thereto will be evaluated carefully,” Schapiro wrote.

Grassley, earlier this month wrote to the SEC about a recent 55 percent jump in Vertex’s stock price, following overstated trial results for a cystic fibrosis drug the Cambridge biotechnology firm is developing. He raised the issue after the Globe reported that a number of Vertex executives cashed in millions of dollars in options and stock in the days after the May stock surge. Soon after the executives sold their stock, Vertex disclosed that the data that prompted the rise was flawed.

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Vertex declined to comment on the SEC’s letter. Previously, the company said it moved quickly to disclose the corrected data on its experimental drug, and blamed an outside vendor for the error. It also said share sales by its executives and directors were either pre-planned or followed Vertex’s internal stock-trading policy.

The company's share price closed at $55.92 Friday, up 9 percent.

Beth Healy can be reached at bhealy@globe.com.
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