Bloomberg News

J&J’s Hepatitis C Drug Wins U.K. Cost Agency’s Backing

March 15, 2012

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)’s Incivo won the backing of the U.K.’s health-cost regulator in a draft recommendation for the treatment of hepatitis C.

The medicine, also known as telaprevir or Incivek, is a cost-effective option for chronically infected hepatitis C patients when used with older drugs peginterferon alfa and ribavirin, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence said today in a statement. The agency advises the state-run National Health Service on which products represent value for money.

Hepatitis C affects as many as 170 million people globally, putting them at risk of developing liver cancer, according to the World Health Organization. The disease is most commonly transmitted through contaminated blood transfusions, organ transplants, contaminated syringes and needle-injected drug use, according to the WHO.

“The significant improvement in sustained virological response rates seen with telaprevir plus peginterferon alfa and ribavirin compared to peginterferon alfa and ribavirin alone, and its potential for shortening the treatment time from the full 48-week course needed for a virological response, therefore represents a major benefit for people with chronic hepatitis C,” Meindert Boysen, program director of technology appraisals at NICE, said in the statement.

About 146,000 people in England and Wales were chronically infected with hepatitis C in 2009, according to NICE. The draft recommendation applies to patients with genotype 1, which is found in as many as half of hepatitis C patients and is the most resistant to treatment, NICE said.

The agency also recommended Merck & Co. (MRK)’s Victrelis treatment for hepatitis C for the same use as telaprevir last week.

To contact the reporter on this story: Makiko Kitamura in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at

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