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The Boston Globe

Opinion

JEFF JACOBY

The bitter pill of failed state tax incentives

Sales of Incivek, the promising pill introduced by Vertex Pharmaceuticals for treating hepatitis C, are down — way down. The Cambridge biotech company sold just $85.6 million worth of its trailblazing drug in the most recent quarter, a precipitous plunge from the same quarter last year, when sales surpassed more than $250 million.

With its earnings, share price, and near-term prospects falling, Vertex announced last week that it was laying off 370 employees, or roughly one-sixth of its workforce. Approximately half of those layoffs will be in Massachusetts. That means that Vertex has failed to create the 500 net new jobs through 2015 that it promised in order to qualify for up to $72 million in state and local subsidies. So far the company has received $4.4 million in tax incentives from the state; to its credit, it has said it will pay the money back without waiting to see if the state enforces a clawback provision.

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