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.

Photo: The Next Web
Photo: The Next Web

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.

Source: Reuters