Regulus Therapeutics Inc has said that its hepatitis C drug can reduce the duration of the average treatment for up to 4 weeks.
Since the Wednesday’s announcement, company’s shares rose 41 percent. An estimated 3.5 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C virus infection, says the CDC.
The company compared the results and treatment times of its drug called RG-101, with FDA- hepatitis drugs such as Gilead Sciences Inc’s Harvoni, Johnson & Johnson’s Olysio, and Bristol Myers Squibb’s Daklinza, said Reuters.
The Regulus treatment accomplished its objective in eight weeks, being the usual treatment time 12 weeks. Regulus was formed in September 2007 by Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY) and Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS), according to its official web page.
“Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus. Today, most people become infected with the Hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C” Said the CDC in a statement.
The company that dominates the Hepatitis C market is Gilead, which obtained $13.86 billion by selling Harvoni in 2015. It is calculated that 185 million people worldwide are affected by hepatitis C. In 2013, there were an estimated 29,718 cases of acute hepatitis C virus infections in the U.S. reported the CDC.
Studies and treatment alternatives
It was suggested that RG-101 could function best when combined with other drugs such as the ones developed by Gilead. However, shares of the latter fell 2 percent to $89.22 after the Regulus Therapeutics announcement.
Researchers at Regulus evaluated 79 patients with chronic hepatitis C virus and 97 percent of them obtained great results and a reduction of symptoms in the week number eight of treatment, said Reuters on Wednesday.
It appears that the drug does not cause too many adverse events. However, a few patients required hospitalizations after dosing. According to Paul Grint, M.D., President and CEO of Regulus, the company aims to accelerate the development of RG-101 given its promising potential to shorten treatment regimens.
$1,000 per pill: WHO says prices are too expensive
In 2014, the World Health Organization announced that all people infected with the hepatitis C virus should receive treatment. However, costs could be pricey for several people. For instance, a 12-week treatment of Sovaldi costs about $84,000, which is the equivalent of $1,000 per day.
On the other hand, a 3-month treatment of Olysio costs $66,000. That being said, developing just one medicine can take between 10 to 15 years and costs more than $1 billion, according to a spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. It is expected that drugs such as RG-101 would reduce costs since it would reduce the treatment time.