The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Incivek (telaprevir) to treat certain adults with chronic hepatitis C infection. Incivek is used for patients who have either not received interferon-based drug therapy for their infection or who have not responded adequately to prior therapies.
Incivek is approved for use with interferon therapy made up of peginterferon alfa and ribavirin.
The current standard of care for patients with chronic hepatitis C infection is peginterferon alfa and ribavirin taken for 48 weeks. Less than 50 percent of patients respond to this therapy.
The safety and effectiveness of Incivek was evaluated in three phase 3 clinical trials with about 2,250 adult patients who were previously untreated, or who had received prior therapy. In all studies patients also received the drug with standard of care.
In previously untreated patients, 79 percent of those receiving Incivek experienced a sustained virologic response (i.e. the infection was no longer detected in the blood 24 weeks after stopping treatment) compared to standard treatment alone.
The sustained virologic response for patients treated with Incivek across all studies, and across all patient groups, was between 20 and 45 percent higher than current standard of care.
The studies indicate that treatment with Incivek can be shortened from 48 weeks to 24 weeks in most patients. Sixty percent of previously untreated patients achieved an early response and received only 24 weeks of treatment (compared to the standard of care of 48 weeks). The sustained virologic response for these patients was 90 percent.
When a person achieves a sustained virologic response after completing treatment, this suggests that the hepatitis C infection has been cured.
Sustained virologic response can result in decreased cirrhosis and complications of liver disease, decreased rates of liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma), and decreased mortality.
Most liver transplants performed in the United States are due to progressive liver disease caused by hepatitis C virus infection. After the initial infection with hepatitis C (HCV), most people develop chronic hepatitis C. Some will develop cirrhosis of the liver over many years. Cirrhosis can lead to liver damage with complications such as bleeding, jaundice (yellowish eyes or skin), fluid accumulation in abdomen, infections, or liver cancer.
Incivek is marketed by Cambridge, Mass.-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, USA