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Merck, Roche team up against hepatitis C
May 18th, 2011
by WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J.
ATLANTA – Merck and Roche have entered into agreements, through their respective subsidiaries, to improve treatment, diagnosis and awareness of chronic hepatitis C infection.
Merck said Tuesday that researchers affiliated with both pharmaceutical companies will collaborate to examine novel combinations of marketed and investigational medicines from both organizations to speed the availability of potential new treatments for patients with hepatitis C.
Under the nonexclusive agreements, Roche will promote Merck's Victrelis (boceprevir) to physicians as part of a triple-combination therapy regimen, starting with the United States, according to Merck.
Plans also call for Merck and Roche to work together to educate doctors and patients about hepatitis C, including diagnosis. The companies said they aim to extend the agreement to other developed and emerging markets globally.
"These agreements are consistent with both companies' goal of improving health care outcomes for patients with chronic hepatitis C," commented Adam Schechter, executive vice president and president of global human health at Merck. "Hepatitis C often goes undetected for many years. By working together, we will be able to provide physicians, nurses and patients with education about the disease, its diagnosis and treatment options, including the appropriate use of Victrelis."
Victrelis, a trademark of Merck & Co. subsidiary Schering Corp., was approved by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C genotype 1 infection, in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin, in adults with compensated liver disease, including cirrhosis, who are previously untreated or who have failed previous interferon and ribavirin therapy.
"Triple-combination therapy for hepatitis C marks a major change in the way this disease is treated," stated Pascal Soriot, chief operating officer for the Roche pharmaceuticals division. "The use of these medicines in combination offers better treatment outcomes for patients. Roche will work with Merck to provide health care professionals and patients with education about the management of hepatitis C. Both companies will also collaborate to develop improved therapies for this serious disease."