Merck stops production of HCV drug due to low demand

January 22, 2015

Merck is voluntarily discontinuing the production and distribution of hepatitis C virus therapy, boceprevir (Victrelis) by December 2015 because of low demand

Merck is voluntarily discontinuing the production and distribution of the hepatitis C virus therapy boceprevir (Victrelis) by December 2015 because of low demand. The company recommends to prescribers that new patients not be started on this therapy.

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The manufacturer of boceprevir announced that it will continue to provide the drug to wholesalers through the end of this year from existing inventory to ensure that patients who are taking the drug can complete up to 48 weeks of therapy.

Boceprevir, an NS3/4A protease inhibitor, was approved in 2011 for the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C genotype 1 infection, to be used in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin, for adults with compensated liver disease.

“Please note that this is a business decision by Merck,” the company wrote to prescribers. “This decision is not based on any safety or efficacy findings with this product.”

Since 2011, newer direct-acting antiviral agents are administered orally without the need of interferon and its accompanying side effects, such as flu-like symptoms. Gilead Sciences’ sofosbuvir/ledipasivr (Harvoni) and AbbVie’s Viekira Pak have offered difficult-to-treat patients including those not responding to previous treatments excellent results with cure rates in the range of 90% to 100%. These newer drug regimens are well tolerated and only have to be administered for 12 or 24 weeks.

For more information about the discontinuation of boceprevir, contact the Merck National Service Center at 800-444-2080.