Merck's Zepatier holds its own in safety comparison to Gilead meds
- Advera Health Analytics, a healthcare informatics firm, recently conducted a comprehensive analysis comparing Merck's new hepatitis C med Zepatier to Gilead's Sovaldi and Harvoni.
- Using post-marketing data, along with information culled from Freedom of Information Act sources, Advera found Zepatier to be as safe as Harvoni, and safer than Sovaldi.
- When Advera Health conducted a similar analysis in December 2015, comparing AbbVie's Viekira Pak to the Gilead meds, Harvoni was also deemed the safest option.
While Harvoni continues to retain its leading status as a safe, effective treatment for chronic hepatitis C, Merck could encroach on some of its market share based on comparable safety and a significantly lower price tag—$54,600 compared to $94,600 list price.
According to the report from Advera, "Drug Evidence Review: Zepatier vs. Sovaldi and Harvoni," Harvoni appeared more effective as monotherapy in treatment-naive patients. However, Havoni and Zapatier seem to be equally effective in treatment-experienced patients.
The most serious side effects associated with both Sovaldi and Harvoni include cardiac arrest, suicidal ideation, and suicide. None of these side effects show up on the Zepatier label, although it does warn of depression in drug-treated patients. Advera says this factor may become more prominent as post-marketing surveillance continues.
Sovaldi fell short in both Advera studies, and Advera noted some side effects which may be worth the FDA including on its label. For Gilead, however, Harvoni has taken up the standard as Sovaldi sales pare down.