Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Hoffman-La Roche Announces Delay of New Hepatitis C Therapy
Hoffman-La Roche Inc. on Tuesday announced that it does not expect to begin marketing its new hepatitis C treatment Pegasys until the second half of 2002, the Bergen Record reports. The company had said in August that it expected marketing approval from the FDA in the first half of next year, but due to changes in the manufacturing process -- made to meet the expected demand for the drug -- FDA approval will take longer than anticipated, the company said. The delay will give a market edge to competitor Schering-Plough, which began marketing its new hepatitis C combination therapy this month. Both treatments use an improved version of interferon, a protein that fights the virus. Doctors have delayed treating about 100,000 patients in anticipation of the new drugs and Schering-Plough may now gain the majority of that market, the Record reports. Standard hepatitis C treatment had been a Schering therapy called Rebetron -- a combination of injection interferon and a ribavirin pill. Roche's delay "puts Schering at an even greater advantage over Roche. That gives them a lot of time to establish themselves in the marketplace," Adam Greene, an analyst with Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, said. Roche is also expected to seek approval for T-20, an AIDS drug, next year (Krauskopf, Bergen Record, 10/17).
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