Hep C pill race report 2012: Gilead, others rush toward pharma gold
This wasn't news to Vertex. Along with a bevy of competitors, the pharma company has hurried to advance interferon-sparing treatments for a while. If the all-oral therapies now in development hit the market as expected within the next couple of years, sales of interferon-based treatments are in big trouble. Vertex knows this. Merck ($MRK), which markets the rival hep C drug Victrelis, knows this. Both companies are hustling to develop all-oral approaches to fighting the disease.
"Obviously, we're moving as fast as we possibly can," Dr. Robert Kauffman, Vertex's chief medical officer, said in an interview with FierceBiotech. He also noted: "The news is that the field is changing rapidly; all-oral regimens look to be on the horizon."
The evolution of hepatitis C treatment threatens to leave today's dominant companies with fossilized offerings. Vertex and Merck have the state-of-the-art approved drugs against the virus, but both companies are chasing after Gilead Sciences ($GILD), Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) and others with programs that could be the first to win market approval with pill-only options.
There's no cozy position in the hep C race, however. The all-oral cocktails are largely unproven and in need of confirmation in fully baked pivotal studies, and that keeps the contest wide open for a number of contenders, Vertex included.
Very competitive field and I am not sure that it will generate 30 billion dollar market. GILD and ABT will face the same issue like MRK and VRTX due to Hep C patients entering into drug trial and getting the oral therapy for free.
I don't know at what viral load patients stop transmitting Hep C virus, if they do? I don't see any drug company working on Hep C prophylaxsis at present time.
I am hoping VX 222 will reproduce 85% or better SVR 12 with Telaprevir and Ribavirin and I hope to see VRTX advancing this twice daily regimen into phase III as rapidly, as they could ( SVR 12 is 99 % representation of SVR 24). I hope Virochem 350 million buyout will bring some reward back.With Affordable healthcare act, I see significant value in relatively low cost therapy even if it is not a single pill or a once daily dose.
Even if the drug only work for non cirrhotic treatment naive group, it is worth a shot. Only 10% patient are treatment resistant and VRTX can leave GILD and ABT to have that market share with their 11 billion ( plus additional development cost) market drug investments.