‘Warehousing’ and the Future of HCV Treatment

November 25, 2014

Pharmaceutical Executive

The battle against hepatitis C (HCV) is a relatively new, and highly dynamic, one.

The battle against hepatitis C (HCV) is a relatively new, and highly dynamic, one. 

The viral disease was only discovered in the 1980’s and, according to WHO estimates, some 3% of the world’s population are now infected with HCV and there are more than 170 million chronic carriers.

So what does the HCV treatment landscape look like and why is it so topical right now?

From initial discovery of the disease to the present day, the approaches used to treat HCV have changed dramatically. The very first non-target-specific therapies of interferon and ribavirin (from Roche and Merck) had low cure rates (otherwise known as sustained virological response or SVR rate), long treatment durations (24–48 weeks depending on the genotype) and a poor side effect profile. Today, we have drugs that target specific stages of the HCV life cycle and which have also started to overcome the aforementioned challenges.

At the same time, overall HCV treatment remains low. Many carriers remain undiagnosed. HCV is a slow-progressing disease and can take 10–20 years to show symptoms. This can result in the lack of a sense of urgency to treat.

Given the drugs’ highly unpleasant side-effects and the prospect of newer, more efficacious HCV drugs in the pipeline, some patients and their doctors choose to wait for better treatments -  and this is what’s known as ‘warehousing’.

To read Chris Smith and Sarah Brown’s article on Warehousing in the HCV Treatment in the new issue of Pharm Exec Global Digest, click here.

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