By Peter Geschek:
One analyst called the race to develop an all-oral drug for hepatitis C a biotech version of the Daytona 500.
The medical advances in hep C have been dizzying this year, and considering the size of the market, this has multi-billion dollar business implications. There’s plenty of good news for patients this year, and for shareholders too, provided that they are betting on the right companies.
There are at least four categories of hepatitis C antivirals.
Protease inhibitors are the current standard of care, like Vertex’s (VRTX) drug Incivek and Merck’s (MRK) Victrelis. The therapy requires ribavirin and an injection of interferon, an immune-boosting protein that can cause flu-like side effects for as long as 48 weeks.
In development there are “nucs” or nucleotide polymerase inhibitors like Gilead’s (GILD) sofosbuvir.
Non-nucs or non-nucleotide polymerase inhibitors in the works are from Abbott Laboratories (ABT), Vertex, and Roche.