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Grazoprevir triple regimen demonstrates high cure rates, even for hard-to-treat people
Liz Highleyman, 2016-11-25 07:40:00

A new three-drug co-formulation containing Merck's grazoprevir plus the investigational agents MK-3682 and ruzasvir was highly effective for people with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes 1, 2 or 3, with sustained response rates of 86 to 100% depending on treatment duration, according to study results presented this month at the 2016 AASLD Liver Meeting in Boston.

Related studies showed that the combination is also effective for retreating people who were not cured with a previous course of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs).

The advent of DAAs used in interferon-free regimens has made treatment for chronic hepatitis C shorter, more convenient and much more effective. However, there is still room for better regimens for hard-to-treat people as well as pangenotypic combinations active against all HCV genotypes; furthermore, additional options are expected to bring down the cost of treatment due to increased competition.

Combining agents that attack multiple steps of the viral lifecycle makes for more effective therapy and may shorten treatment. Merck is evaluating a once-daily fixed-dose co-formulation containing its approved HCV protease inhibitor grazoprevir (part of the Zepatier co-formulation with elbasvir), the investigational nucleotide NS5B polymerase inhibitor MK-3682 and the next-generation NS5A inhibitor ruzasvir (formerly MK-8408).

The phase 2 C-CREST trials tested the co-formulation – dubbed 'MK3' – taken with or without ribavirin for 8, 12 or 16 weeks.