A new hepatitis-C-fighting drug cocktail that has a 90 percent cure rate may be on the market by 2015, and bring in a whopping $2 billion in annual sales for its maker Abbott Laboratories.
The new, shorter duration therapy does not include interferon, which is known for being difficult to tolerate in patients, and has led many to stop or delay treatment because of harsh side effects.
The company reports 90 percent cure rates with just 12 weeks of therapy, in small, mid-stage trials – compared to the current shortest reported regimen of 24 weeks. Larger trials are needed to confirm the efficacy and safety of the combination.
Another company, Pharmasset Inc, announced promising data in recent months for its own experimental interferon-free hepatitis C regimen. However, its shares fell recently after the Abbott announcement.
If the Abbott data holds up in larger trials, it could outperform new drugs from
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Merck & Co. that have also been hailed as breakthroughs.
Hepatitis C infects an estimated 4 million Americans and can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and the need for a transplant.