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Home>UPDATE: Merck Hepatitis C exit could lift the space's two remaining drugmakers

UPDATE: Merck Hepatitis C exit could lift the space's two remaining drugmakers

UPDATE: Merck Hepatitis C exit could lift the space's two remaining drugmakers

09/30/2017

By Emma Court

The change could lift shares of AbbVie and Gilead in the long term

Merck announced early Friday that it plans to stop developing its two hepatitis C therapies.

The decision follows a similar one by Johnson & Johnson earlier this month, with both Merck (MRK) and J&J (JNJ) saying that competitive considerations factored into their decisions.

Now "the HCV category comes down to only 2 entrants (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/merck-discontinues-development-program-for-a-hep-c-treatment-2017-09-29)," AbbVie Inc. (ABBV) and Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD), said Leerink Partners analyst Geoffrey Porges. "This, in a nutshell, changes everything."

Merck's Friday decision still leaves it with hepatitis C treatment Zepatier, which was approved by the FDA in early 2016.

But the therapy "suffers from several problems and limitations, and is not competitive with either Gilead's Epclusa/Harvoni or AbbVie's Mavyret," Porges said.

Related: AbbVie's new, cheaper hepatitis C drug could launch the drug world's own Hunger Games (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/abbvies-new-cheaper-hepatitis-c-drug-could-launch-the-drug-worlds-own-hunger-games-2017-08-04)

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