Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

International News
Merck, J&J's New Hepatitis C Treatments Fetch $31,000 in France

April 5, 2011

Though they are still under review by the European Medicines Agency, two new hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatments are already being prescribed to French patients. In December, telaprevir and boceprevir received special temporary authorization in a program for critically ill patients for whom no other effective treatment is available, said French pharmaceutical regulator AFSSAPS.

Advertisement

Used as a complement to existing HCV treatment, telaprevir, made by U.S.-based Johnson & Johnson and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., and boceprevir, by Merck & Co., boost cure rates from roughly half of patients to between two-thirds and three-quarters, studies show. Both drugs are protease inhibitors made using the same technologies that led to improved HIV drugs. Approximately 500 patients currently are being treated in France, said Michel Bonjour, spokesperson for SOS Hepatites.

But under the program, telaprevir costs €22,000 (US $31,290) and boceprevir €30,000 (US $42,670). France's national health insurance program covers the entire cost. While Merck and J&J executives said the price may come down once the drugs are approved for the broader market, doctors worry high pricing could affect treatment access.

England, Russia and countries in Eastern Europe are likely to delay use or restrict access to the drugs if their prices remain high, said Antonio Craxi, director of gastroenterology and internal medicine at the University of Palermo. Italy and Spain could do the same, he said. Existing HCV treatments cost Italy €350 million annually (US $498 million). "If you triple the cost, that would be more than €1 billion [US $1.42 billion]," he noted.

Howard Liang, a Boston-based analyst with Leerink Swann & Co., estimates that the drugs will be priced at $35,000 to $40,000 in the United States.

Back to other news for April 2011

Excerpted from:
Bloomberg News
04.03.2011; Naomi Kresge; Carol Matlack




This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:
http://www.thebody.com/content/art61350.html

General Disclaimer: TheBody.com is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through TheBody.com should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.