Hepatitis C Drugs: More Choices, More Hope
December 2015

Dr. Kristina M. Lybecker
Professor of Economics at Colorado College
Ward Health Associate

Estimates suggest that more than 3 million people in the United States, and 170 million people globally are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Merck’s development of a new hepatitis C therapy promises to deliver both hope and choice to hepatitis C patients. 

Merck’s once-daily, single-tablet combination of grazoprevir and elbasvir proved effective in treating even the sickest hepatitis C patients, without negative side effects.  Treatment was well tolerated, with no significant difference in reports of headaches, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness and diarrhoea between the placebo group and the active treatment group (Alcorn).

First and foremost Merck’s new hepatitis C drug delivers therapeutic value to patients. The grazoprevir/elbasvir combination therapy also benefits physicians, as it gives clinicians more options in treating diverse patient needs.  In particular, therapeutic alternatives within the same drug class may differ in their metabolism, molecule, regimen, dosing schedules, speed of action, delivery system, adverse effects, therapeutic profile and/or interactions.  Consequently, therapeutic alternatives may improve patient administration, allow for the elimination of treatment-limiting drug reactions or other side effects, and offer significant options to patients with different physiologic and pathophysiologic statuses.