Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) and Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) both released new data on their next generation hepatitis C combo. The competition for market share is at an all-time high.
Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) was the first one to release mid-stage data for its triple hepatitis C drug. The drug was combined with the experimental NS5A, inhibitor GS-5816 and GS-9857, which is a NS3/4A protease inhibitor.
Gilead had shown its study. The data showed that there was a sustained response for the triple of 93% among treatment naïve non-cirrhotic patients after six weeks of treatment. The similar figure for cirrhotic patients was 87%, and the figure for treatment-resistant patients was 67%. At 27% response rate the 4 week SVR rate failed, this may bar Gilead combo from honing any fast acting treatments.
Merck’s grazoprevir and elbasvir combo recently gained a breakthrough drug designation for a couple of narrow patient populations and ay get quick approval by the end of this year. According to the data released 99% of a pre-specified group of chronic kidney disease patients were cured after 12 weeks of treatment. 5% of the group was excluded due to missing data caused by death or discontinuation.
New hepatitis C drugs from Gilead and AbbVieInc (NYSE:ABBV) are in the market. There is intense competition in clinical trials on specific sub populations and faster overall cure rates. The trend was underscored by Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ACHN) a few months back. Achillion released the data of a small but successful six weeks study of its NS5A inhibitor ACH-3102 and then started a four weeks trial.
The competition for the hepatitis C market will be intense after the next round of approvals begins. Gilead has an early lead. Now with Merck set to enter the market it is to be seen which way the market goes.