As we saw last week, the Gilead candidate (along with a few others, including a Vertex candidate) look so promising, and so far show so few of the side-effects seen in the current treatment regimens — so they lead the emerging new Hep C paradigm.
And that new paradigm involves something called “warehousing.”
Simply put, in cases where the Hep C virus (in dormant mode, from time to time) isn’t doing immense active damage to their patients, many doctors have begun to “warehouse” their patients, just as they did in the months prior to the launch of Vertex’s Incivek.
Thus, Merck’s Victrelis sales have flattened out, at $110 million this past quarter, and may actually decline next quarter. Similarly, Vertex may see some more erosion in sales. However, note that Vertex has a much brighter pipeline, and offers the dis-proportionate “pop” — from the pipeline — because it is so so much smaller, than Merck. Any win is a big one for Vertex.
Said another way, it takes a very big series of wins, to move Merck’s needle, on pipeline news — but not so with Vertex. Or Gilead. Merck pointed directly at warehousing as the issue with Q1 sales trends on legacy Schering-Plough’s telaprevir, or Victrelis as it is now branded. [Yes, that was one of Fast Fred’s “Five Star” potential blockbusters, as late as mid 2009.]
It will max out at less than half-a-blockbuster, it seems.
As ever, we will keep you posted.