The Abbott drugs studied in AVIATOR were ABT-450, a protease inhibitor that requires blood-boosting with ritonavir; ABT-072, an NS5A inhibitor; and ABT-333, a "non-nuc" polymerase inhibitor. Ribavirin, a current backbone in hepatitis C treatment, was also included in some but not all of the combination regimens.
Gilead's results come from a large phase II study known as ELECTRON, testing two experimental pills, the nucleoside, or "nuc" polymerase inhibitor GS-7977 (also known as sofosbuvir) and GS-5885, an NS5A inhibitor, plus ribavirin. The study also enrolled treatment-naive, genotype 1 hepatitis C patients.
Gilead has already started phase III studies of its oral hepatitis C pill combinations. Positive results could lead to regulatory approval in 2014. Based on the results from AVIATOR, Abbott is moving forward into phase III studies with its three-drug regimen, with and without ribavirin.
In addition to efficacy, convenience may also play a role in which new hepatitis C regimen emerges as the winner. Gilead could have a slight edge because GS-7977 and GS-5885 are being coformulated into single pill taken once per day. With the addition of ribavirin, hepatitis C patients on the Gilead regimen would take two pills in the morning and one at night for 12 weeks.Abbott's combination therapy requires patients to take more pills. With ribavirin added, hepatitis C patients would swallow four pills in the morning and two pills in the evening for 12 weeks. Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), Merck (MRK), Idenix Pharmaceuticals (IDIX) and Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACGN) are also engaged in the race to develop new, combination-pill therapies against hepatitis C. -- Reported by Adam Feuerstein in Boston. Follow @AdamFeuerstein
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV