Rival hepatitis C drugs from Merck and Vertex Pharmaceuticals VRTX +0.21%
made a big splash when they debuted in 2011, marking an advance in
treatment of the liver disease and a lucrative new market segment. But
now the Class of 2011 has almost sunk to the bottom, made obsolete by a
newer wave of drugs, a sign of how rapidly the hepatitis C market is
Merck this week notified the FDA that it will stop selling its
Victrelis medicine in the U.S. by the end of this year, although the
drug will remain available in other countries. The move comes three
months after Vertex Pharmaceuticals discontinued U.S. sales of its own Incivek hepatitis C drug.
Both drugs are known as protease inhibitors and when they became available
in 2011, they were quickly incorporated into treatment. Victrelis and
Incivek each boosted cure rates and shortened treatment durations for
many patients when added to the prior standard treatment.
Labels: Merck, Victrelis discontinued