Vertex Pharmaceuticals received FDA approval for their hepatitis C drug Incivek. It appears to be a very effective agent when combined with standard therapies.
In clinical trials, patients were treated with a combination of Incivek and standard therapies for 12 weeks. They continued on the standard treatments for another 36 weeks, but many of them were cured within 24 weeks. Vertex said about 79 percent of previously untreated patients were cured after treatment with Incivek. The drug was also much more effective in patients who had relapsed, had some response but not a cure, or had no response to other drugs.
And the cost:
The company says a 12-week course of treatment will cost $49,200, (Wholesale price) compared to $30,000 for standard therapies.
Medicynical Note: This appears to be an effective approach to a disease which heretofore has been difficult to manage. The cost, however, is prohibitive, particularly when one consider the additional expense of combining it with standard therapies.
The manufacturer expects it to generate billions of dollars in income but a big question is how to pay for it. Insurers have difficulty raising rates; most individuals don’t have $50,000: and our non-system is approaching financial bankruptcy.
One would hope that instead of billions in profits the emphasis would have been on millions cured. But then that’s the American medicine in the twenty-first century.