Posted by: tristar3research | April 14, 2009

The Growing Scourge of Hepatitis C (HCV)

I’ve been working in a consulting capacity for the biotech field for a while now and it never ceases to amaze me that overpopulation and ecological strain on the planet are beginning to being back old scourges like dengue fever, intensify pandemics like the Asian flu (which infected 26% of the world’s population in 1968), and the pernicious hepatitis C virus which quietly destroys the liver until it is too late to heal it.

Over 170 million people world wide are chronically infected with Hepatitis C virus. 75-80% of newly infected patients develop chronically HCV infection which leads to severe morbidity and mortality caused by cirrhosis, cancer and liver failure. Hence, there is a huge need to develop effective therapeutics for the treatment of HCV. Six different types (genotypes) of HCV have so far been identified. The standard therapy, which is a combination therapy (pegylated interferon and ribavirin) is often poorly tolerated by the patients.

Now for the bad news for the baby boom generation….

This treatment is furthermore only efficient in 50 % of the cases against the most frequent HCV genotype. Such a lack of treatment options  is what creates health care system strains…or market opportunities.

The HCV therapeutic development landscape continues to inflate and currently possesses three compounds in Phase III clinical studies, several novel therapies in Phase II and Phase I pipeline, and numerous new compounds in animal-stage study and research stages. Driven by the new drug launches, the global HCV therapeutics market is forecast to reach $9.1 billion by 2015. Key drivers include rising number of treatment-obliged chronic hepatitis C patients with advanced chronic stage disorders and liver disease, and expected increase in relapser/non-responder patient population, who need re-treatment in majority of cases. However, growth in the market is expected to face hindrances due to the silent nature of the infection that never insists on treatment till it reaches end-stage level, low rates in infection diagnosis and referral, and decreasing rates of incidences especially in developed countries, which represent a substantial portion for the market.


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