Roche Hepatitis C Treatment Gains Half of Market Share From Schering-Plough
December 23, 2003
The hepatitis C drug Pegasys, which is manufactured by pharmaceutical company Roche, has gained half of the market share from Schering-Plough's Peg-Intron hepatitis C treatment after being available for barely one year, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Both drugs are "long-acting interferons" that are injected under the skin to boost the immune system to combat the hepatitis C virus and are taken in combination with ribavirin, an antiviral drug that increases the drugs' effectiveness. Schering-Plough's Peg-Intron had been on the market for nearly two years when Roche introduced Pegasys a year ago, according to the AP/Inquirer. To compete with Schering-Plough, Roche hired more sales representatives to reach out to the 15,000 U.S. doctors who specialize in HCV, gave 12-week samples of its drug to about 12,000 patients and offered wholesalers a 43% discount on its version of ribavirin, called Copegus. According to Liz Coyle of health information company IMS Health, Pegasys has captured 50% of the HCV market from Peg-Intron, with approximately 19,000 prescriptions dispensed for each drug. The number of people being treated for HCV is a "tiny fraction" of the four million Americans who have the virus, because most either do not know they are infected or cannot afford the $25,000 course of treatment, according to the AP/Inquirer. Schering-Plough spokesperson Bob Consalvo said that the company had erred in cutting its sales staff last year, but he said that the company plans to restore its sales force and offer discounts, according to the AP/Inquirer (Johnson, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/22).
"It may not be winner takes all," Boger said, adding, "It could be that the way the hepatitis virus is best tackled is by combining the best of several drugs that work by different mechanisms -- the way in which HIV is being treated" (Lau, Investor's Business Daily, 12/22).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.