Experimental Hepatitis C Treatment Not Effective in Monthly Dose, Trial Data Indicate
Albuferon, an experimental hepatitis C treatment from Human Genome Sciences, is not effective when administered on a monthly basis but is more effective when taken every two weeks in combination with another medication, according to trial data released by the company on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reports. About 75% of patients taking a 1,200-microgram dose of Albuferon every two weeks in combination with Ribavirin exhibited lower hepatitis C viral levels, compared with 66% of patients receiving 180 micrograms of Pegasys, a hepatitis C treatment from Roche Holding, every seven days, according to phase III trial data. The trial finds that Albuferon was not as effective as Pegasys when taken at four-week intervals, although it might be more effective if given in higher doses, the Journal reports (Hinton, Wall Street Journal, 3/15). According to the Washington Post, the data "raised questions about whether Albuferon is superior enough to let it compete with entrenched products that doctors are long accustomed to prescribing." Albuferon -- a variation of interferon, which has been on the market for several years -- was developed "to work better than existing forms of the drug while allowing people to inject themselves less often," the Post reports. HGS said it will move forward with larger scale trials to receive FDA approval. HGS CEO H. Thomas Watkins said, "Quite honestly, we like what we see in terms of these interim results" (Gillis, Washington Post, 3/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.