Vertex Pharmaceutical Executives Cash in on False Hopes


Senior executives at Vertex Pharmaceuticals made millions of dollars each by selling company stock in the days after the Cambridge-based pharmaceutical reported promising clinical trial data on an experimental drug for cystic fibrosis. And then weeks after they cashed in, the company said, oops, we overstated the trial’s interim findings. They weren’t quite as good as initially reported.

The whole sordid tale is in The Boston Globe today, including details on which five top executives of the company benefited from the stock sales and the degree to which Vertex overstated its initial findings on May 7. According to The Globe, chief commercial officer Nancy Wysenski walked away with $8.8 million and Peter Mueller, the executive vice president of global research and development (who no doubt oversaw the trial) with $3.4 million. Even its founder, Joshua Boger, who is still a company director, got in on the action.

Vertex officials blamed the mistake on a “misinterpretation between Vertex and our outside statistical vendor” who analyzed the clinical trial data, the Globe reports. But they would not identify the outside vendor, a contract research organization.

Right. Does anyone besides myself smell a rat? This strikes me as a too convenient explanation for a “mistake” that hugely benefited Vertex’s top management. And it makes me wonder why drug companies are allowed to release preliminary findings to the public at all before the results are vetted by peer-reviewed journals. This strikes me a recipe for stock trading abuse.

I sure hope the Securities and Exchange Commission is all over these trades. Left holding the bag are not only the investors who bought shares in the company when its stock surged on the erroneous news, but all the families of cystic fibrosis patients whose hopes were falsely and cruelly raised.

This blog was originally posted at


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


Mad in America has made some changes to the commenting process. You no longer need to login or create an account on our site to comment. The only information needed is your name, email and comment text. Comments made with an account prior to this change will remain visible on the site.


  1. The Securities and Exchange Commission! LOL. They just allowed Facebook to pull one of the biggest pump and dumps when everyone and their grandma KNEW it was a pump and dump operation. As for the rats you smell, they are fleeing the ship that is the American Empire. They see the writing on the wall and it ain’t pretty. That is why you keep seeing the scams get bigger and more blatant. These criminals are taking as much money as fast as they can. This is standard operating procedure for American corporations.

    Report comment

    • I think Capitalism is cannibalizing itself at this point. And all of this is done at the expense of thousands of people. Where is the shame these days? If there is a Hell, then executives of large drug companies will have a special place reserved in it just for them.

      Report comment

      • If/when the big boys start going after each other, that is when things will get interesting. As for shame, there is no shame these days at all levels of society. The stench of the rotting carcass at the top has trickled its way down. We are living in an age of moral nihilism and fragmentation. These are truly interesting times. Post election is when we are going to see the real fireworks.

        Report comment