Bristol-Myers Squibb Treatment for Hepatitis C Approved

Japan approved the all-oral Sunvepra and Daklinzadual regimen from Bristol-Myers Squibb to treat those with hepatitis C, said the company on Monday.

The combo-treatment, which is ribavirin- and interferon-free is the latest options for patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C in Japan, who have not taken or responded to more traditional treatments, said the drug makers in a prepared statement.

The Ministry of Labor, Health and Welfare in Japan approved the treatment after a study that was Phase III in Japan indicated positive results.

Close to 70% of the people who live with hepatitis C in the country have the genotype 1b form, while the older population of Japan is less apt to tolerate the therapies that are interferon based, which for years has been the illnesses’ standard treatment, the pharmaceutical giant added.

Bristol-Myers Squibb released in statement from its CEO Lamberto Andreotti that said the approval in Japan of the Suverpra+Daklinza treatment reflects the strategic focus the company has in developing options in treatments that meets the needs of the people of Japan that are carriers of HCV.

Therapies for hepatitis C have recently become a competitive area for pharmaceutical companies as a next generation of treatments promises to result in cures for more patients, provide shorter times for treatments and contain fewer harsh side effects than did the older conventional forms of treatments.

In a broader spectrum, many pharmaceutical makers have focused on the development of different specialty drugs, as the cost of such treatments is predicted to increase sharply during the coming years.

Worldwide there are over 150 million people infected with hepatitis C with the genotype 1 form being the most common.

Hepatitis C is a virus, which is transmitted via direct contact with infected blood products or blood itself, and it infects the carriers’ livers.

As many as 90% of the people infected with the illness, will not be able to spontaneously clear it and will become infected chronically.

According to WHO, 20% of the people who have chronic Hepatitis C eventually will develop cirrhosis and of those, 5% to 7% might ultimately die.