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.
New hep C meds have drawn their fair share of criticism, with lawmakers, patients and payers claiming that the drugs' hefty price tags unfairly restrict their use to the sickest patients. Now, more voices are joining the swelling chorus of discontent as two inmates are suing the Massachusetts state prison system for not providing the drugs to prisoners.
Gilead Sciences and AbbVie are quick to tout the efficacy of their hep C meds. Now, those numbers have helped the drugmakers score a win in the U.K. as the country's National Health Service (NHS) will spend £190 million ($294 million) for new treatments for the disease, including AbbVie's interferon-free treatment and Gilead's blockbuster hep C therapies.
Merck, working to scratch out a place in the market for next-generation hepatitis C cures, filed its new combination treatment for FDA approval in hopes of taking third place in a fast-crowding field.
Gilead Sciences has a new swath of research showing that investing in new hep C therapies could potentially save the U.S. and Europe billions of dollars in lost productivity.
A patient denied the latest hepatitis C drugs has sued her insurance company. In this case, it's Anthem Blue Cross, and the California plaintiff says her plan blocked her from treatment because she's not sick enough to qualify under its rules.
Early today both Gilead and Merck issued new data on their next-next-gen hepatitis C combos, demonstrating just how brutal the competition for market share is becoming while highlighting some of the boundaries that are emerging in shortening treatment regimens.