Sales Down, Discounts Up: Hepatitis C Market Feeling Zepatier Launch
As the third to market, Merck & Co. Inc.'s recently launched Zepatier brought in a modest $50m in sales during the first quarter – but the drug has had an outsized impact on the hepatitis C field, with competitors Gilead Sciences Inc. and AbbVie Inc. both citing the new competition among the reasons for their declining HCV product sales during the first quarter.
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While a dwindling patient base and pricing pressures are depleting the market opportunity in hepatitis C, Merck's decision also may result from regulatory dialogue potentially delaying the start of a Phase III study.
Merck reports $314m for PD-1 inhibitor Keytruda in second quarter, mostly from melanoma indication, leaving it far behind Bristol's Opdivo. Pressed about its competitive strategy, company execs touted first-to-market advantage in first-line lung cancer and a "wall of data" that will protect in the future.
With continued strong growth for Humira, AbbVie doubles down on confidence to protect the franchise with IP strategy. Imbruvica and Viekira Pak show growth, although the latter is flourishing only ex-US.