The Race to Treat Hepatitis C Isn't Over: Merck's Victrelis Is First New Medicine to Get OK
May 24, 2011
Most major drug developers are now angling for a piece of the hepatitis C treatment market, which is expected to balloon with the improved treatment responses of new combination regimens.
"People may have non-specific symptoms like fatigue, so they don't really know what it is," Palmer said.
Two-thirds of patients taking Victrelis-based therapy achieved a sustained virological response, as did 79 percent of those on a regimen including Incivek (telaprevir), the new HCV treatment from Vertex Pharmaceuticals. By comparison, only about 40 percent of patients receiving ribavirin and peginterferon combination therapy alone achieved SVR. With both new therapies, many patients were successfully treated in a shorter amount of time, as well.
"I think we've set a really high bar," said Camilla Graham, vice president of global medical affairs at Vertex. "We're looking for high cure rates for as short a treatment period as possible. To be able to shorten the treatment period to 24 weeks is a big step forward."
"The researchers want to copy the playbook of HIV and hit [HCV] at every step of the life cycle," said Seamus Levine-Wilkinson, a Decision Resources analyst. "That's why the combination therapies are the focus of everyone."
The crowning achievement will be an all-oral therapy that excludes interferon, said Barr. "The field is working hard in that direction," he added.
05.15.2011; Susan Todd
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