Roche Holding AG (RHHBY - Analyst Report) recently announced that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved a label expansion for Pegasys in combination with ribavirin for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) in children and adolescent five years and older.
We note that Pegasys plus antiviral ribavirin is approved for the treatment of chronic HCV, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/HCV co-infection and chronic hepatitis B in adults.
Children and adolescents aged five years or more who have not received prior treatment and have been tested positive can now be treated with Pegasys plus ribavirin. Roche had conducted a randomized controlled study based on which approval was granted.
The study results revealed that a larger percentage of children treated with the Pegasys plus ribavirin combination achieved sustained viral response than the children treated with Pegasys alone (53% versus 21%). The results in children and adolescents were similar to the results observed in adults infected with HCV genotype I.
We note that companies like Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK - Analyst Report) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (VRTX - Analyst Report) have a presence in the HCV market.
The label expansion on Pegasys into the children and adolescent population is a positive. Recently, Roche received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a next-generation viral load test for use in chronic HCV patients. We are pleased with Roche’s progress in the treatment of HCV.
Roche currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Stocks which currently look well-positioned include Novo Nordisk (NVO - Analyst Report) . Novo Nordisk carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).