Joshua Boger, Ph.D., founded Vertex in 1989 with $6 million in venture capital and a dream to create a new kind of pharmaceutical company. After more than a decade at Merck, where he was told that most of the medicines he would work on would never make it to a patient, he left and founded Vertex with the idea that no challenge should ever be too great. From the very first day, Vertex has pushed the boundaries of what’s possible in medicine with the simple goal of improving the lives of people with serious diseases.
Our history is rich with “firsts.” Vertex scientists were the first to publish the crystal structure for the protease of the hepatitis C virus, an achievement that led to the creation of the company’s first approved medicine, and we were the first – and are still the only – company to have multiple medicines in development that target the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis.
While today we’re a much larger company, all of the things that were unique to Vertex in 1989 are still with us – a relentless commitment to science being at the core of it all.
– Dave Deininger, Senior Research Scientist and Vertex’s 22nd employee
Vertex is a story of scientific discovery. Take a journey through the major milestones of the company’s history:
1989: Vertex founded by Joshua Boger, Ph.D., in Cambridge, MA.
1990: Vertex signs first research collaboration, a $30 million deal, with Chugai Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd., a Japanese company.
1991: VRTX shares begin trading on the NASDAQ on July 24.
1992: Vertex enters into a $20 million agreement to develop HIV medicines with the Japanese company Kissei Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
1994: Vertex opens the doors of its first international office in Ascot, UK.
1996: Vertex scientists publish the protease crystal structure for the hepatitis C virus in Cell.
1999: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves an HIV protease inhibitor co-discovered and commercialized by GlaxoSmithKline.
2001: Vertex establishes its San Diego research and development site through the acquisition of Aurora Biosciences, gaining assay development technology and new screening capabilities, which later led to the discovery of Vertex’s approved and investigational medicines for cystic fibrosis.
2005: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves a second HIV protease inhibitor co-discovered and commercialized by GlaxoSmithKline.
2006: Vertex and Johnson and Johnson sign a collaboration in hepatitis C.
2007: Vertex conducts clinical development of multiple oral medicines that target the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis.
2009: Vertex establishes its Canadian research and development site through the acquisition of ViroChem Pharma in Laval, Canada.
2009: The company’s founder, Joshua Boger, Ph.D. retires as chief executive officer, handing the reins to Matthew Emmens.
2010: Vertex completes its first New Drug Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
2011: Vertex receives U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for its first medicine.
2011: Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., becomes the company's President and Chief Executive Officer.
2012: Vertex receives approval in the U.S., Canada and Europe for its first cystic fibrosis medicine.
2015: Vertex receives approval in the U.S. for its second cystic fibrosis medicine.