Two New Hepatitis C Drugs Butt Marketing Heads

Merck's Victrelis and Vertex's Incivek both approved to treat hepatitis C

June 6, 2011 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an infectious disease which is 100 times more infectious than HIV. People who inject drugs or engage in unprotected sex account for most people who are infected with hepatitis C.

While hepatitis C is not considered an exclusively sexually-transmitted disease, this is the same at risk group as HIV. Patients with Hepatitis C, over time, can develop serious, life threatening conditions like cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Now, there are two prescription medications available that can possibly cure hepatitis C.

"Victrelis and Incivek offer hopes of cures for hepatitis C."

Dr. C. Everett Koop, former surgeon general for the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations, recently reported to a congressional committee in regards to hepatitis that, "Americans are at the edge of a very significant public health challenge - not unlike the AIDS epidemic."

Koop continues his testimony by saying, "We have an infectious disease that is an undisputed threat to the public health. It is a viral disease that millions of people harbor without knowing they have it."

“With the approval of Incivek, there are now two important new treatment options for hepatitis C that offer a greater chance at a cure for some patients with this serious condition,” said Edward Cox, M.D., M.P.H, director, Office of Antimicrobial Products in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

“The availability of new therapies that significantly increase responses while potentially decreasing the overall duration of treatment is a major step forward in the battle against chronic hepatitis C infection.”

Both Victrelis and Incivek are HCV protease inhibitors which work by blocking the replication of the hepatitis C virus. This same protease inhibitor approach to treatment is used in the new antiretroviral HIV drugs and tuberculosis drugs.

Usually in prescription medicine today, management of the disease is the goal. The word "cure" is rarely used when talking about serious medical conditions, but some patients are able to be completely cured.

For the majority of the patients, these new drugs approved for hepatitis C provide cures, not just treatments! Providing cure opportunities before cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer develop is a tremendous development in hepatitis C treatments.

Incivek is a pill taken three times a day. During the first 12 weeks of treatment, it should be taken in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin. Most people can finish the course of Incivek after 24 weeks as the majority of patients receive a good, early response.

Victrelis is also taken in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribarin three times a day for four weeks, eight or 24 weeks, depending on the patient's response.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 29, 2011
Last Updated:
June 6, 2011