January 20, 2015
The pharmaceutical company, Merck, has announced that they will stop the manufacture and distribution of their hepatitis C (HCV) protease inhibitor Victrelis by December 2015. As the landscape of HCV treatment has rapidly evolved, providers are no longer prescribing the medication and patients are no longer taking it in favor of newer regimens that are easier to take, and have shorter treatment durations and higher cure rates. In a similar move, Vertex discontinued their HCV drug Incivek (telaprevir) in October 2014.
This decision is based purely on business and not due to any safety issues with the medication. Victrelis will continue to be available through the end of 2015 to ensure that any patients who are still on this treatment are able to complete the full 48-week course. No one should begin a new course of treatment with Victrelis.
Moving forward, Merck will continue to develop medications including seeking FDA approval in the first half of 2015 for their next generation of HCV therapy: grazoprevir (MK-5172) and elbasvir (MK-8742). Data presented at the 2014 Liver Meeting of AASLD showed an SVR12 rate ranging from 87-98%, with minimal side effects for this fixed-dose combination with or without ribavirin.
This regimen has also shown excellent results for people living with HIV/HCV co-infection as well as those with renal disease. The regimen was designated as a "breakthrough therapy" by the FDA, and if approved it will add to the choice of options available to people living with HCV.
No comments have been made.
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