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Reuters Health Information (2005-05-17): Vertex says investigational drug rapidly suppresses hepatitis C virus

Drug & Device Development

Vertex says investigational drug rapidly suppresses hepatitis C virus

Last Updated: 2005-05-17 15:21:44 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. on Tuesday said half of hepatitis C patients taking its experimental drug VX-950 in an early-stage trial tested negative for the virus 14 days after beginning treatment.

The tiny U.S. biotechnology company said the patients received a 750-mg dose of the drug every 8 hours during the 2-week phase I trial.

Results of the 34-patient study, which was conducted among patients with the hardest-to-treat genotype 1 strain of the virus, were presented at the annual Digestive Disease Week scientific meeting being held in Chicago.

"The big surprise is that half of patients in 14 days in this drug group went below levels of virus detection," Vertex Chief Executive Officer Joshua Boger told Reuters.

By contrast, he said current two-drug treatments typically must be taken for 3 months before half of patients reach undetectable levels of the virus, and then must be taken another nine months to make sure the virus does not re-emerge.

Another patient in the Vertex-sponsored trial also tested negative for the virus after receiving a different dose of VX-950.

Detectable levels of hepatitis C returned in two of the five virus-negative patients a month after the Vertex trial concluded, but Boger said he is hopeful longer treatment in bigger future trials will prevent the virus from re-emerging after it is suppressed.

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