New Trial works against all Genotypes

An experimental hepatitis C drug combination from Gilead Sciences Inc.wiped out all strains of the virus in a large clinical trial, giving the company an advantage against AbbVie Inc. in the race to treat as many patients as possible.

In a trial of 624 patients with any of six strains, or genotypes, of hepatitis C, Gilead’s experimental combination of velpatasvir and sofosbuvir was effective at clearing the virus 99 percent of the time after 12 weeks of therapy. Three related trials also showed the drug was successful in treating multiple strains, the Foster City biotech company said this week.

“This is a big step forward to proving they’re going to have a pan-genotypic option here,” said Asthika Goonewardene, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. In hepatitis C, “you have a very fragmented market,” Goonewardene said, because of the genetic diversity of the virus, which causes the liver disease.

Variety of strains

Gilead and AbbVie already have drugs on the market for hepatitis C, though they’ve mostly focused on patients with genotype 1, the most common strain in the U.S. Other strains are more common in different parts of the world. Globally, almost a third of patients suffer from genotype 3, which is more common in India and Southeast Asia.