Two months after Merck & Co. and Roche agreed to promote the former’s Victrelis™ (boceprevir) in the U.S. as part of a triple combination therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV), the companies are expanding their marketing effort overseas.
Merck says it will work with Roche in Europe, Asia, and Latin America to educate physicians and patients about HCV and promote Victrelis in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin (peg/riba). The nonexclusive global marketing agreement came two days after the EC approved Victrelis as part of the triple combination for HCV genotype 1 infection in adult patients with compensated liver disease who are previously untreated or who have failed previous therapy.
In May, Merck and Roche agreed to promote the triple combination in the U.S. as well as collaborate to explore new treatment regimens for patients with chronic HCV. The agreement was announced May 17, four days after the FDA approved Victrelis.
The medication was one of two HCV drugs approved by the FDA in May. The other is the Vertex drug Incivek (telaprevir), which won the agency’s nod after three Phase III trials with about 2,250 previously untreated adult patients showed that HCV was no longer detected in the blood 24 weeks after stopping treatment. Victrelis was approved following two Phase III studies with 1,500 adult patients, in which two-third of patients receiving the drug as part of the triple combination experienced similar results.