Boston, MA 10/24/2013 (wallstreetpr) – A new drug from Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is expected to cure 80% of hepatitis C patients. The current line of treatment has been developed 20 years ago and lasts for one year with regular regimen of pills and injections. The cure rate is only 50% and also has adverse side effects that cause flu-like symptoms. Two new lines of treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011 improved the cure rate to 75%. The new drug from Johnson & Johnson has raised the bar to 80%. The treatment also causes some side effects, about 25% of the patients developed rashes in the first 12 weeks of treatment. About 5% of the patients also faced sunburn as a result of the treatment. The U.S. FDA has posted the results on its website and asked for experts’ opinion on whether the drug should carry warnings about such potential side effects. Experts are expected to vote today whether the drug should be approved for treatment.
Hepatitis C market is a vey lucrative market estimated at $20 billion. The size is expected to grow to $100 billion by the end of decade. It is a form of viral infection affecting the liver and many people infected by it do not realize till liver damage occurs. The infection can sustain for 20 to 30 years in the liver, damaging the liver and causing severe complications like cancer and cirrhosis. More than 15,000 deaths per year are attributed to this disease and more than 3 million people in the U.S. are infected with this virus. It is expected to grow into a major public health problem in the U.S. as the population ages. Such a vast market with fast growing potential has induced other pharmaceutical companies to speed up their R&D efforts in developing new lines of treatment. Merck and Vertex pharmaceuticals have already developed their drugs; Gilead Sciences Inc. is waiting for FDA approval. The New Brunswick, NJ is also seeking approval to test its drug formulation.