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Reuters Health Information (2012-03-16): UK cost body backs J&J's Incivo (telaprevir) for hepatitis C


UK cost body backs J&J's Incivo (telaprevir) for hepatitis C

Last Updated: 2012-03-16 17:50:15 -0400 (Reuters Health)

LONDON (Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson's hepatitis C treatment Incivo (telaprevir) was recommended for use within Britain's state health service on Friday, the second new hepatitis C drug in as many weeks to win approval from the UK's health costs watchdog.

The decision by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to allow the drug to be funded on Britain's National Health Service (NHS) follows NICE's backing last week for Merck's rival drug Victrelis (boceprevir).

Incivo is recommended in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin for patients with liver disease due to genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C, the most common form.

It is sold in the United States by Vertex Pharmaceuticals under the brand name Incivek, while in Europe J&J's Janssen Cilag unit has rights to the product with Vertex receiving royalties.

Meindert Boysen, program director for technology appraisals at NICE, said current treatments for chronic hepatitis C are often lengthy and their side effects can be difficult to cope with, but data show "significant improvement" when Incivo is used in combination with the other two drugs.

"Sustained virological response rates seen with telaprevir plus peginterferon alfa and ribavirin compared to peginterferon alfa and ribavirin alone... represents a major benefit for people with chronic hepatitis C," he said.

NICE said this was draft guidance which would now be open to consultation and appeal before it can be confirmed.

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