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The introduction of Merck and Co.'s recently-approved drug Zepatier (elbasvir/grazoprevir) to the hepatitis C treatment space will shake up a market long-dominated by Gilead. The combination of Zepatier's excellent clinical profile and highly competitive pricing will play a major role in encouraging its uptake, says an analyst with research and consulting firm GlobalData.
Clinical trial data have shown that Zepatier, which was approved in the US on January 28, 2016 for the treatment of hepatitis C virus genotypes 1 and 4, has a similar efficacy and safety profile to Harvoni.
The latter has been one of the most profitable drugs in the hepatitis C market by virtue of its efficacy, safety and convenience of use. Since its approval in October 2014, Harvoni generated impressive sales of over $12 billion in the US alone by the end of 2015.
However, Dr Daian Cheng, GlobalData's Analyst covering Infectious Diseases, states that now Zepatier has been approved, it will threaten Harvoni's leading commercial position for patients infected with hepatitis C virus genotypes 1 and 4.
Dr Cheng comments: "Despite differences in small patient populations, such as those with end-stage renal or liver diseases, Zepatier is highly comparable to Harvoni in clinical performance, as well as dosing convenience.