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Could New HCV Drugs Excessive Pill Intake Hinder Compliance?

May 19, 2011

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Since Victrelis™ (boceprevir) is to be administered in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin to treat chronic Hepatitis C genotype 1 infection, taking so many medications could cause compliance issues. However, there may be other options.

Pill Burden a Key Concern with New Chronic Hepatitis C Drugs

Marketwire

Published: May 18, 2011

NEW YORK, NY– This past Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first of a new generation of chronic hepatitis C drugs, known as protease inhibitors. The drug, VICTRELIS® (boceprevir), from Merck & Co., has been shown to increase the rate of sustained viral response and shorten treatment times when used in combination with the current standard of care, ribavirin and pegylated alpha interferon, in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. Vertex Pharmaceuticals is seeking approval to market a similar drug, INCIVEK® (telaprevir).

The addition of protease inhibitors to the current standard of care puts a new and significantly greater treatment burden on the patient. Under most treatment regimens, pegylated alpha-interferon is injected once a week, and ribavirin is taken twice a day, for a total of five or six pills when prescribed in generic form. VICTRELIS is taken three times a day, for a total of 12 pills. INCIVEK is also taken three times a day, for a total of 6 pills. A treatment cycle lasting 48 weeks could mean that the patient is responsible for taking over 5,700 pills on schedule for the entire regimen. If the patient does not adhere to the prescribed regimen, the risk of treatment failure or relapse is increased (Reddy KR, Shiffman ML, Morgan TR, et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2007;5:124-129). Furthermore, because of the direct antiviral mechanism of protease inhibitors, missed doses of a protease inhibitor could lead to viral resistance (Weiss, et al. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2009; 30:14-27).

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