Bristol-Myers disclosed plans for the exploratory 30-patient trial testing its three-drug combination with Sovaldi in an interview with Reuters. Eric Hughes, the leader of Bristol's global hepatitis program, said the details were due to be posted on the clinicaltrials.gov website next week.
Sovaldi's $84,000 price tag for a 12-week treatment has spurred outrage among insurers, state health officials and lawmakers who fear the cost of treating millions of Americans with the progressive liver disease will top $250 billion. Insurers are pushing Gilead's rivals to offer lower prices when their hepatitis C medicines reach the market.
REVIVING A SOVALDI COMBO
Bristol's plan essentially revives an effort to test its drugs in combination with Sovaldi. It previously tested a single compound with Sovaldi, achieving cure rates close to 100 percent in 12 weeks. But Gilead scrapped further testing in 2012, as it preferred to develop its own combination without a partner.
Gilead's pill that combines Sovaldi with its ledipasvir is expected to gain U.S. approval this year for therapies of eight or 12 weeks, depending on the patient. The company is also testing the combination as a six-week treatment. The go-it-alone strategy has already paid off as Gilead was first to market with Sovaldi, breaking pharmaceutical industry sales records with $2.3 billion in sales within a few months.
[Read Full Article: A 4-week hep C cure? Bristol to test drugs with Gilead's Sovaldi]