AbbVie Inc. (ABBV)’s combination hepatitis C therapy cured almost all patients in a late-stage study, moving the company closer to marketing a treatment that will compete with Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY)
In a trial in 419 patients, AbbVie’s as-yet-unnamed drug cocktail cured 99 percent of those given it after 12 weeks, regardless of whether they added the older booster medicine ribavirin, the North Chicago-based company said today at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston. AbbVie said it will seek U.S. approval this quarter.
Hepatitis C attacks the liver and can lead to cancer and organ failure. The virus affects about 150 million people worldwide and the market for new pills is estimated at about $20 billion. Drugmakers are competing to market treatments that eliminate the need for ribavirin and weekly shots of interferon, an older therapy that causes flu-like symptoms.
AbbVie’s combination consists of a protease inhibitor called ABT-450 used with the booster ritonavir, an NS5A inhibitor called ABT-267 and ABT-333, a non-nucleoside polymerase inhibitor. ABT-450 will garner sales of $1.4 billion in 2016, making it the company’s second-biggest drug, according to Jeffrey Holford, an analyst at Jefferies International in New York.
Gilead estimated in May that 150,000 patients may seek treatment in the U.S. once the new class of all-oral drugs is on the market, compared with 85,000 patients in 2012. The Foster City, California-based company applied last month for U.S. approval of its two-drug combination.
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