Merck plans to enter hep C market, take on Gilead & AbbVie with faster-acting combo drug
- Merck's latest mid-stage hep C combo-drug study evaluated eight-week treatment regimens as the company attempts to gain a competitive advantage in a market dominated by Gilead and AbbVie.
- In the trial, the tested regimen wiped out hep C in more than 90% of the patients with hep C genotypes 1 and 3 (GT1 and GT3). These are the two most common of the six strains of hep C.
- Although Merck is attempting to gain a competitive advantage with a shorter treatment regimen, Gilead and AbbVie are also working on development of shorter treatment regimens.
On the high end, the global market for hepatitis C treatment could be as much as $750 billion per year. Given the fact that Gilead, the leading hep C company, made roughly $12.4 billion last year from its hep C franchise, there's still a lot of room for growth.
Even as Gilead and AbbVie work to introduce their next-generation products to cover patients who don't get an automatic cure from Harvoni or VieKira Pak, Merck is attempting to enter the market with a shorter regimen. So far, so good. Not only were the mid-stage trial efficacy data good, but there were no serious adverse events reported.
Nonetheless, there's still more to accomplish in hep C therapeutics, notably a treatment regimen with pan-genotypic activity. With all of the contenders working in this space, there's bound to be a development breakthrough soon.