Canadian regulators approve Vertex Pharma’s Hep. C drug Incivek

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Earlier on Monday, Vertex Pharmaceuticals announced that the company’s hepatitis C drug Incivek has been approved by Canadian regulators. The drug is intended for use as combination therapy for people who have Hepatitis C, and a damaged but otherwise functional liver.

According to the Cambridge, Mass. based company, the combination treatment has been approved by Health Canada for both patients who are treatment naïve as well as those who have been treated previously. Patients receiving Incivek are administered two pills thrice a day.

The highly anticipated Incivek pill, which received US FDA approval in May, is anticipated to make billions in annual sales. Over the past 20 years, Incivek and Merck & Co.’s Victrelis (also approved in May) have been the only two, new revolutionary treatments for liver disease.

Both Incivek and Victrelis inhibit the Hepatitis virus’s capability to reproduce by restricting a certain enzyme. Of the two drugs, Wall Street analysts consider Incivek more potent and anticipate its higher sales.

Hepatitis C is a communicable disease affecting nearly 4 million Americans, vast majorities of whom are not even aware of being infected. Hepatitis C spreads through the blood and causes cirrhosis, liver failure, liver damage, or cancer.

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