Analysts handicapping the competitors in hepatitis C, current and future, say Gilead Sciences is likely to continue dominating the field, though it might cede some niches to newer rivals.
Merck, angling to compete with dominant hepatitis C treatments from Gilead Sciences and AbbVie, posted positive results for its in-development combos as it works to demonstrate their ability to cure more patients faster.
Gilead Sciences has been dealing with a slowdown for its hep C superstars Sovaldi and combo drug Harvoni, with prescriptions for the drugs petering off during the second quarter and analysts expecting things to continue in the same vein. As predicted the company's lagging momentum continued into Q3, with sales growth for its hep C treatments staying flat despite beats on earnings.
AbbVie's Viekira Pak and Technivie were developed to cure hepatitis C and so avoid the complications like liver transplants that can result from the disease. But the FDA said today that in some cases the two drugs may cause serious liver injury, even death, mostly in patients with underlying advanced liver disease, and told AbbVie it would have to add a warning to its labels.
Bristol-Myers Squibb got a go-ahead from the U.K.'s cost gatekeeper for its chronic hep C med Daklinza (daclatasvir), a win for the company as it competes with Gilead Sciences and AbbVie in a fiercely contentious hep C market.
AbbVie is facing bad news for its hep C powerhouse Viekira Pak as it dukes it out for dominance with Gilead Sciences in the hep C market. Healthcare informatics firm Advera Health Analytics looked at new side effect post-marketing safety reports on hep C treatments, including those for Gilead's Sovaldi and Harvoni and AbbVie's Viekira Pak, and found that AbbVie's drug was the riskiest option among the three meds.
In the face of hefty hep C competition from Gilead and AbbVie, can Daklinza profit from a set of niche uses?
Gilead has already made a megablockbuster fortune out of its hepatitis C cure. But the race to cure patients faster (and probably cheaper) is still on. And Achillion today posted some new data from small studies that show its NS5A inhibitor odalasvir (or ACH-3102) could feature prominently in one of the new cocktail therapies now in development at Johnson & Johnson.
Hep C drugs like Gilead Sciences' Sovaldi and AbbVie's Viekira Pak can cure hepatitis C, preventing people from getting liver disease. But in some states like Illinois, a person on Medicaid can't get Sovaldi unless they already have advanced liver disease. Even then, other restrictions can block them from access to the pricey meds. This kind of rationing is to save money, not lives, and is discriminatory White House medical advisors have told the administration. Experts have urged a reluctant administration to lay down some consistent guidelines for Medicaid on use of the new drugs.
China has upended a Gilead Sciences' patent on its pricey hep C drug Sovaldi, a move that health advocacy groups loudly applauded today. The patent overturned was not the only IP Gilead holds on Sovaldi, but when Gilead found itself in a similar position with China two years ago, it allowed discounted copies to be made.