Log in
E-mail
Password
Remember
Forgot password ?
Become a member for free
Sign up
Sign up
Settings
Settings
Dynamic quotes 
OFFON

4-Traders Homepage  >  Equities  >  Nyse  >  Merck and Company    MRK

SummaryQuotesChartsNewsAnalysisCalendarCompanyFinancialsConsensusRevisions 
News SummaryMost relevantAll newsSector newsTweets

Merck Hepatitis C Drug Shows Promise in Study; Abbott Updates Data

share with twitter share with LinkedIn share with facebook
share via e-mail
0
11/11/2012 | 12:01am CEST
   By Peter Loftus 
 

A regimen containing an experimental Merck & Co. (>> Merck & Co., Inc.) drug suppressed the hepatitis C virus in most patients in a new clinical trial, and appears to be more potent than the company's Victrelis treatment.

The mid-stage study included the injectable drug interferon that Merck and its rivals hope to drop from future regimens. Merck now plans to conduct new studies of its drug, MK-5172, as part of a potential all-oral hepatitis C regimen that eliminates interferon, which can be difficult for patients to tolerate.

Merck is among a pack of drug companies--including Gilead Sciences Inc. (>> Gilead Sciences, Inc.) and Abbott Laboratories (>> Abbott Laboratories)--racing to tap what's expected to be a multibillion-dollar market for all-oral regimens. Current standard therapies, including Merck's Victrelis, are typically given with interferon.

Hepatitis C is a viral disease that attacks the liver, and is believed to afflict about 180 million people world-wide, with more than four million in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. At-risk groups include people who had blood transfusions before 1992, when a screening test for the virus was developed.

Merck is presenting clinical data for MK-5172 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in Boston, which began Friday.

MK-5172 is a so-called protease inhibitor, the same class of drug as Victrelis, which went on sale last year and generated $387 million in sales for the first nine months of 2012. But MK-5172 is designed to be more potent and to carry a higher barrier to treatment resistance than Victrelis, said Eliav Barr, vice president of infectious diseases with Merck's research arm.

In a phase 2, or mid-stage, clinical trial of about 330 patients with hepatitis C, patients were given various dose levels of MK-5172 in combination with the drugs ribavirin and interferon for 12 weeks. One group of patients received Victrelis plus ribavirin and interferon--which is now a standard treatment.

The study found that 96% of patients who received the 100-milligram dose of MK-5172 had sustained virologic response 12 weeks after treatment ended, the highest response rate of the various treatment groups. Sustained virologic response is roughly equivalent to being virus-free or having nearly undetectable viral levels.

By comparison, some 54% of patients in the Victrelis group achieved sustained virologic response at 12 weeks. This is lower than what prior, larger studies have shown for Victrelis. In prior studies, the drug led to sustained virologic response in about two-thirds of patients at 24 weeks after treatment.

Higher doses of MK-5172 were associated with liver toxicities, said Dr. Barr.

Because the study contained interferon, additional studies are needed to test whether MK-5172 is efficacious without interferon.

Merck plans to conduct phase 2 studies of MK-5172 in combination with another experimental oral drug, MK-8742, plus ribavirin, which is also an oral drug. If testing goes well, Merck may consider removing ribavirin from the regimen and pursuing a combination of MK-5172 and MK-8742, he said. Ideally, they could be combined in a once-daily tablet.

"We're looking for something highly efficacious, short duration, well-tolerated and all-oral," he said.

Dr. Barr declined to provide a timeline for when Merck might be in a position to submit a new hepatitis C regimen for regulatory approval.

Analysts generally view Gilead as leading the all-oral hepatitis C race, with Abbott Labs and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (>> Bristol Myers Squibb Co.) also still in the hunt. Bristol experienced a setback this summer when one of its hepatitis C compounds failed because of safety issues, but it has others in the pipeline. These companies are expected to present additional, updated data on their drugs at the AASLD meeting.

Abbott Labs reported some results for its hepatitis C drugs in October. Updated results show that a combination of three experimental Abbott drugs--ABT-450 combined with the boosting agent ritonavir, ABT-267 and ABT-333--plus ribavirin led to 12-week sustained virologic response rates of 97% in patients who hadn't received prior treatment, and 93% in patients who had received prior treatment.

In addition, a group of patients who received the Abbott drugs without ribavirin had a sustained virologic response rate of 87% at 12 weeks. These patients hadn't received prior treatment.

"We think the efficacy is a very exciting result to see," said Barry Bernstein, head of hepatitis C development at Abbott.

About 1% of patients discontinued study treatment due to adverse events, Abbott said.

Abbott has begun phase 3, or late-stage testing, of its hepatitis C regimen, with and without ribavirin. The company expects it may secure regulatory approval for a regimen by early 2015 if further testing is positive.

Write to Peter Loftus at peter.loftus@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

share with twitter share with LinkedIn share with facebook
share via e-mail
0
Latest news on MERCK AND COMPANY
01:15pDJMERCK AND : Scientists, Out $12 Million, Sue Delaware Over Seizure of Their Stoc..
12:30p MERCK AND : AstraZeneca and Merck & Co., Inc. - LYNPARZA Receives Additional and..
12:30p ASTRAZENECA : and Merck & Co., Inc. - LYNPARZA receives additional FDA approval ..
08:35aDJASTRAZENECA : FDA Approves AstraZeneca's Ovarian Cancer Treatment Lynparza Table..
08:31a MEDIVIR : initiates clinical study of birinapant in combination with KEYTRUDA® (..
07:01a BERGENBIO ASA : Results for the Second Quarter and Half year 2017
08/17 FDA expands use of AstraZeneca/Merck ovarian cancer drug
08/17 MERCK AND : LYNPARZA Receives Additional and Broad Approval in the U.S. for Ovar..
08/17 ANOTHER VIEW : Merck CEO shows the power of corporate conscience
08/17 Chinas HitGen bags new drug discovery deal with Aduro
More news
News from SeekingAlpha
01:35p Top Gain Dow Dogs Are General Electric, IBM, & Pfizer Per Broker August Targe..
08:00a AstraZeneca, Time To Expand The Operation
08/17 My Chemical Romance
08/17 BOEING : Money Over Morals
08/16 Bristol-Myers Squibb Combination Treatment Not At The End Of The Crossroad
Financials ($)
Sales 2017 40 292 M
EBIT 2017 13 703 M
Net income 2017 5 621 M
Debt 2017 4 312 M
Yield 2017 3,04%
P/E ratio 2017 29,13
P/E ratio 2018 18,42
EV / Sales 2017 4,29x
EV / Sales 2018 4,15x
Capitalization 168 660 M
Chart MERCK AND COMPANY
Duration : Period :
Merck and Company Technical Analysis Chart | MRK | US58933Y1055 | 4-Traders
Technical analysis trends MERCK AND COMPANY
Short TermMid-TermLong Term
TrendsNeutralNeutralNeutral
Income Statement Evolution
Consensus
Sell
Buy
Mean consensus OUTPERFORM
Number of Analysts 21
Average target price 70,0 $
Spread / Average Target 13%
EPS Revisions
Managers
NameTitle
Kenneth C. Frazier Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer
Robert M. Davis CFO & Executive Vice President-Global Services
Clark Golestani Chief Information Officer & Executive VP
Thomas Henry Glocer Independent Director
Rochelle B. Lazarus Independent Director
Sector and Competitors
1st jan.Capitalization (M$)
MERCK AND COMPANY5.05%168 660
JOHNSON & JOHNSON15.48%357 079
ROCHE HOLDING LTD.5.37%218 752
NOVARTIS10.59%218 545
PFIZER1.45%196 221
SANOFI7.62%122 613