Poised to meet HCV market challenges

Intro to HCV

Hepatitis C (HCV) is a contagious liver disease that results from the inflammation of the liver due to infection with the Hepatitis C virus. The virus affects an estimated 4 million people in the United States, and more than 150 million worldwide. Although HCV can clear the body without treatment within a few months, it generally progresses to a chronic illness in the majority of cases. Chronic infection with HCV can lead to serious complications such as cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. In the United States, these HCV complications are the leading cause of liver transplantation, and are responsible for more deaths annually than the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Market Challenges

The broad treatment of chronic HCV is currently limited by a lack of diagnosis and suboptimal therapeutic options for patients. According to The Center for Disease Control, up to 85% of people living with HCV in the United States are unaware of their infection status. For those aware of their HCV status, historically, treatment options have been associated with low rates of cure, poor tolerability, and long treatment durations. Thus there has been a pressing need for new and improved treatment options. Recently approved therapies for chronic HCV continue to require combination therapy with the poorly tolerated medicines, pegylated interferon and ribavirin, for the majority of patients. Furthermore, treatments continue to be limited by their specificity for certain genotypes of HCV, lower effectiveness in certain patient types, and high cost.

Market Evolution

With therapeutic options to cure HCV remaining suboptimal for patients, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies are rapidly advancing novel, direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) as candidates for the treatment of HCV. Recent research supports the combination of two or more potent DAAs with complimentary mechanisms of action as a prospective treatment for HCV without interferon. However, all DAAs and interferon-free combinations are not created equal. Each combination may differ in their ability to provide increased cure rates across genotypes, improved tolerability profiles, shortened treatment durations, convenient dosing, and a competitive cost.

Market Opportunity

HCV is a global epidemic associated with burdensome complications. Research suggests that the treatment paradigm for HCV will evolve from the current interferon-based therapies to interferon-free combination treatments that deliver high cure rates for a majority of HCV patients, minimal side effects, shortened treatment durations of 12 weeks or less, and a competitive cost. Due to the widespread infection of HCV and demand for these improved therapies, multiple estimates forecast the global market for HCV treatment will reach $20 billion annually by the end of the decade. The market is projected to persist through 2030 due to the low rates of HCV diagnosis globally, which will require intensive screening and linkage to care efforts during the initial introduction of interferon-free treatments, and the large number of patients requiring care from a limited number of specialty physicians.

To learn about Achillion’s pipeline of investigational DAA candidates for the treatment of chronic HCV, click here.

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