6 Jan 2015
Washington, D.C. (December 18, 2014) — Today, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) released a new report, “Twenty-Five Years of Progress Against Hepatitis C: Setbacks and Stepping Stones,” that examines the scientific challenges and setbacks researchers have faced on the path to developing new medicines with the potential to transform treatment for hepatitis C patients and how these so-called “failures” are an integral part of the drug discovery process.
The new report found between 1998 and 2014, 77 investigational medicines failed in clinical trials, laying the groundwork for 12 approved medicines over the same period.
The learnings from these setbacks inform the continuous innovation in treatment leading to new advances in treating the hepatitis C virus. The evolution of treatment from interferon-based therapy to direct-acting antiviral agents has helped transform hepatitis C from a chronic and often fatal illness to an infection that with new and forthcoming treatments may one day be considered a rare disease.
While the trajectory of hepatitis C is changing thanks to America’s biopharmaceutical companies, substantial unmet medical need for patients remains, which is why the industry continues to research further treatment advances for patients. According to the report, there are 75 new hepatitis C medicines either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“New and forthcoming hepatitis C treatments represent a remarkable advance against a very serious disease,” said PhRMA President and CEO John J. Castellani. “These treatments are often curing more than 90 percent of patients – transforming lives and helping to avert billions of dollars in unnecessary hospitalizations and other costly medical services. Forthcoming treatments are projected to provide even greater cure rates and shorter duration of treatment, vastly improving patients’ health and quality of life.”
Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants and the primary driver of increases in liver cancer. The costs of treating hepatitis C can be daunting with average health care costs per patient battling liver cancer estimated at $112,000 per year and the cost of a liver transplant ranging as high as $500,000 per patient. These costs underscore the importance of new therapies in treating and potentially curing the disease for both patients and the health care system.