Will competition in hepatitis C drugs lower the price of treatment?

This week Merck told the Federal Drug Administration that it will stop selling Victrelis (generic name boceprevir) in the United States. The protease inhibitor hit the market in 2011 along with Incivek. Both improved hepatitis C cure rates and often shortened treatment times. Both drugs, though, had to be used with interferon.

At the height of boceprevir’s popularity in 2012, Merck made $502 million on the drug. Incivek (telaprevir) generated $1.2 billion for Vertex that year. But these old drugs are fading as Harvoni, Solvaldi, Olysio, and Viekira Pak are making treatment much, much easier. In fact, Merek is now developing its own one-pill power-pack. Interferon injections and dreaded side-effects are disappearing as more people, like me, are quickly being cured.

It seems that competition is hot and heavy. If the free market actually works, in the next few years prices should come down. But who can wait years while their liver is heading getting thicker by the minute?


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