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Nov 12, 2012
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Incivek's anemic sales

HCV doctors: Anemia, payer preference add to sales decline for Vertex's Incivek

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. maintains the reasons behind declining sales of HCV drug Incivek telaprevir are due to marketwide factors, including a bolus of clinical trials and a wait-and-see attitude by some physicians. But two doctors contacted by BioCentury said anemia issues specific to Incivek and payer preferences for a competing drug also play a role.

Regardless of the reasons, Incivek's best days could be behind it despite entering the market only 18 months ago. Both Incivek and the competing HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitor - Victrelis boceprevir from Merck & Co. Inc. - face uncertain futures as all oral, interferon (IFN)-free regimens are expected to be approved next year.

Both drugs now are used with IFN and ribavirin.

It's unclear whether these regimens will even use protease inhibitors as part of the cocktail. If protease inhibitors are included, next-generation molecules such as once-daily simeprevir (TMC435) from Johnson & Johnson and Medivir AB are likely to be preferred in any all oral regimen. Both Victrelis and Incivek are dosed thrice-daily, although Vertex is testing a twice-daily dosing schedule.

Incivek flew out of the gates following its May 2011 launch. The drug posted $74.5 million in 2Q11 sales, dwarfing the $21 million in sales for Victrelis, which was launched the same month (see BioCentury, Aug. 1, 2011).

In 3Q11, Incivek sales were $419.6 million in the U.S. and Canada, where Vertex markets the drug. The peak in those countries came in 4Q11, when Vertex reported $456.8 million in sales.

Sales in 1Q12 then fell to $356.9 million in 1Q12, to $327.7 million in 2Q12 and to $254.3 million in 3Q12.

Vertex told BioCentury that 50,000 U.S. patients have been treated with the drug since launch, accounting for three of four HCV patients treated with a protease...

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