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Will Merck Encroach On Gilead's Harvoni Territory?

Wayne Duggan

Slingshot Insights recently conducted an interview with Dr. Bruce Bacon, Professor of Internal Medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine about the impact that Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK)’s Zepatier will have on the HCV market, particularly when it comes to Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD)'s Harvoni and AbbVie Inc (NYSE: ABBV)'s Viekira Pak.

When asked about his impression of Zepatier and its potential impact on the market, Dr. Bacon said he anticipates the drug playing a large role in the future of HCV treatment.

"The cure rates are excellent. It’s basically a genotype 1 and 4 treatment, it's not for 2's and 3’s, but we don’t see a lot of 2’s and 3’s, and we see hardly any 5's and 6's," Dr. Bacon explained. "So, it's pertinent to 80% of the patients that we see."

Related Link: Valeant Had A 58% Chance Of Bankruptcy Last Year

When asked about how much market penetration Zepatier will achieve, Dr. Bacon noted that it's a bit more complicated than simply choosing the treatment that works best in a given situation.

"It's going to be contracting, and it's going to be whether or not Merck has successfully crashed into the contracting that Gilead has already got with insurance companies," he explained. "If Gilead has exclusive contracting with someone, with some company or with some insurance plan, that says for all Hep C you’re going to use Gilead products only and we're going to... give you a drug at a discount for that, it's going to be tough for Merck to cut into that."

Disclosure: the author holds no position in the stocks mentioned.

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