Hep C Drugs Battle for Market Share but SJS May be the Smoking Gun that Takes Incivek out of the Running

Two new Hepatitis C medications hit the market back in May and now are fighting for market share. Merck’s Victrelis (boceprevir) and Johnson & Johnson/Vertex’s Incivek (telaprevir) have a lot in common when it comes to potency and efficacy — but one may cause Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS).

Both of the drugs are in a class called oral protease inhibitors. Both claim to offer patients a significant improvement in Hep C symptoms when added to current treatments for the disease. Hence, both drugs are thought to be poised for blockbuster status. But analysts are expecting that Incivek will win in the end because it has a higher rate of cure and it is easier and faster to take. That said, with this being Vertex’s first drug launch, that company will need help when it comes to marketing the drug against the more experienced Merck.

Benefits of the drugs are listed as follows: Victrelis had a “66 percent sustained viralogic response (SVR) — as close to a cure as possible — in late-stage studies, but Incivek produced a significantly higher rate of 79 percent.” Patients did respond better to Incivek and were able to stop the treatment after only 24 weeks. (Most treatments have to be taken for 48 weeks.) In theory, that can help reduce the risks of patients suffering from severe side effects such as SJS, which is a potentially life-threatening skin condition that causes the body to burn from the inside out.

That is the sore spot with taking Incivek, because nearly half of the patients who took it did, in fact, develop skin rashes or SJS, which can be life threatening. And this despite the shorter course duration. Victrelis, however, had no cases of SJS during testing but the dose regimen is harder and, as with all drugs, it has the potential to trigger SJS.

If you develop Stevens-Johnson syndrome after taking Incivek, contact SJS lawyer Greg Jones today for a free consultation. I am experienced at fighting SJS lawsuits and may be able to help you recover money for your injuries.

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