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Reuters Health Information (2011-07-26): Vertex says combo hepatitis C treatment works

Drug & Device Development

Vertex says combo hepatitis C treatment works

Last Updated: 2011-07-26 14:35:07 -0400 (Reuters Health)

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Tuesday a combination regimen showed the potential to clear genotype 1 hepatitis C virus (HCV) in 12 to 24 weeks.

Interim results of the mid-stage Zenith study showed that 50% of patients who received VX-222, Incivek, pegylated interferon and ribavirin were eligible to stop all treatment at 12 weeks, and 93% of these patients had undetectable HCV 12 weeks after treatment ended.

"The results from this study are the first to show the potential for a combination of multiple direct-acting antiviral medicines to help people with hepatitis C clear the virus with as few as 12 and no more than 24 weeks of treatment," said Robert Kauffman, chief medical officer of Vertex.

VX-222 is Vertex's lead polymerase inhibitor in development for the treatment of hepatitis C.

Incivek, launched in May as the company's first commercial product, is expected to be a multibillion-dollar seller and compete against Merck & Co's new Victrelis (boceprevir). Both drugs have shown the ability to significantly increase the likelihood of a cure compared with standard drugs and can reduce the current 48-week treatment regimen, which usually consists of a combination of pegylated interferon and ribavirin.

Vertex's Zenith study initially enrolled 106 patients with HCV genotype 1, randomly assigning them to four treatment arms designed to evaluate multiple treatment regimens with VX-222.

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