Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (VRTX), Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK): Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD) Races Against Competitors for an Oral Hepatitis-C Cure

At Merck, the company announced its MK-5172 saw a 92% cure rate six months after completing a 12 week treatment course. MK-5172 was dosed alongside ribavirin in the trial.

But, the competitor closest to threatening Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) in the race to launch is AbbVie. During an investment conference in July, the company suggested it could have the first oral drug approval. It is in the final stages of its phase 3 trials. If approved, AbbVie’s drug would help the company diversify its sales away from megablockbuster Humira, which accounted for $2.6 billion in Abbvie sales last quarter, roughly 55% of the company’s total revenue.

But Gilead seems to remain the front runner
Its sonosbuvir treatment would require just one daily pill versus four for AbbVie’s drug. And sonosbuvir showed a 95% cure rate in phase 2 trials, similar to AbbVie’s cure rate following 12 weeks of treatment. This suggests that even if AbbVie does get to market first, doctors and patients will likely favor Gilead’s drug.

That could mean a big pay day for the company given there are roughly 180 million people infected with hepatitis C worldwide. While drug development is notoriously difficult and setbacks do occur, it appears Gilead and AbbVie should be watched closely as either could see substantial revenue growth if granted approval, making them Foolishly attractive.

The article Gilead Races Against Competitors for an Oral Hepatitis-C Cure originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Todd Campbell.

Todd Campbell has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. 

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