At the European Association for the Study of Liver Disease conference in Barcelona, Spain, several companies are vying to be the first to market with an oral hepatitis C drug, the spotlight has been now concentrated on just two: Bristol-Myers Squibb
In a joint venture, the two drug companies presented results that showed that a treatment regimen consisting of Gilead's GS-7977 and Bristol's daclatasvir given to patients with specific genotypes returned a startling success rate in Phase 2 studies: sustained viral response after four weeks (SVR 4) of 100% for genotype 1 patients, and 91% for genotypes 2 and 3. Gilead's drug is classified as a nucleotide inhibitor, while Bristol's is considered an NS5A replication complex inhibitor. Gilead is also testing GS-7977 with ribavirin, an older hepatitis C treatment drug, which netted an 88% SVR 4 with genotype 1 participants. The company noted that the patients in the latter study had a slightly more difficult treatment profile than in the former.
But it wasn't just a two-company show. Abbott Laboratories
Other companies with hep C treatments under study include Achillion Pharmaceuticals
Time will tell whether the sustained viral response can be maintained over a longer period of time for the Gilead-Bristol drug, which would qualify it as a real cure. The study is only in phase 2, and it's notable that Gilead has not agreed to move on to phase 3, which may indicate its desire to substitute its own formulation for Bristol's daclatasvir. It certainly seems clear that Gilead is leading the charge toward the big prize: being the first drug company to bring to market an all-oral hepatitis C treatment that really works. There are other contenders for the prize, but at this point, my money would be on Gilead.
The atmosphere surrounding the EASL just shows how exciting the health-care sector can be for investors. If you'd like to know more about how innovation and cutting-edge technology spell profit and value for these companies and their investors, order our free report now.
Fool contributor Amanda Alix owns no shares in the companies mentioned above.
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