This “News” Should Come As No Surprise — Doctors Prefer Vertex’s Incivek®

As if we didn’t already know this, Decision Resources (as quoted by the Pharma Letter, do go read it all) is out with a new survey of Hep-C-treating doctors — in the US.

The results are not pretty — for the legacy Schering-Plough former R&D “star” called boceprevir — now Merck’s Victrelis®:

. . . .For the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV), the majority of surveyed US physicians survey by advisory company Decision Resources who prescribe the Vertex protease inhibitor Incivek (telaprevir) more often than the protease inhibitor Victrelis (boceprevir) from Merck & Co. . . . perceive Incivek as offering a short, simple treatment duration and superior efficacy.

Similarly, surveyed managed care organizations’ (MCOs) pharmacy directors indicate that Incivek’s efficacy is the key driver of formulary inclusion. Physicians’ perception for sustained virologic response (SVR) as a key driver of prescribing for Incivek may suggest that emerging therapies with a higher SVR rate are likely to take patient share from Incivek unless they fall significantly short on other attributes such as safety or convenience. . . .

On a tanget, then (at least to the extent that this blog is primarily about Merck) — the key question for Vertex is how soon will the “emerging therapies” reach the US market. My hunch is that the runway is relatively clear for Vertex through early 2016. And that gives Vertex nearly four years of an 85 percent share of the market in the US. [It should also be noted that Vertex itself has a very promising next-gen candidate in clinical trials (with partner J&J) — so it may be able to leverage a follow-on position, from this long 2011 to 2015 smooth runway.]

Thus, in my view, there would be no need to buy the full Decision Resources report — the market data, outlined in the graphic at upper right, from both companies’ public periodic SEC filings — tells it all.

And, expect that trend to continue, when Merck reports Q1 2012 results on April 27. So it goes — thanks again, ole’ “Fast” Fred “the Dread” Hassan!


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