Friday, November 19, 2010

News Flash! Merck Asia Exec Believes Hep C "Has Been Cured" For Many Years. Oops.

Once again, and now for the third Friday in a row, we've been treated to some off-the-reservation remarks from Merck's main man in Asia and India -- Senior Vice President Ramesh Subrahmanian. [Someone -- anyone -- at Whitehouse Station, probably ought to call this guy (and hand him some science primers). In any event, the US NIH would certainly disagree with his remark about Hep C being cured.]

In fact, it has been known for a few years that -- apparently due to greater insulin resistance rates -- Asians, as a group, respond more poorly to current regimens of Hep C treatment, than do Caucasians. The same seems true of people of African descent. In a twist of very-potent irony -- Mr. Subrahmanian was targeting his remarks at Merck's emerging Asian markets.

It is possible that he was misquoted, but not likely -- from (dated Saturday, India time):

. . . .Merck aims to bring existing products to emerging markets.

"Treatment and diagnosis rates are extremely underdeveloped. For example, Hepatitis C has had a cure for many years but the number of people diagnosed and treated is tiny," [Mr. Subrahmanian] said.

While many Merck products were widely available, people were not getting access to them, he said, so it was working with stakeholders to build awareness, healthcare infrastructure and funding platforms, and to improve existing products. . . .

Oh my. Do not -- under any circumstance -- let actual facts get in the way of the marketing story, here.


Anonymous said...

With such scientifically astute execs making decisions it's a wonder that companies can't come up with adequate numbers of new drugs to protect against patent loss.

condor said...



Ring the bell -- school's out (forever)!


Anonymous said...

Sustained viral reduction for Hepatitis C, accepted in the medical community as a "cure", can be achieved with the current standard of care (i.e. pegylated interferon + ribavirin). Although as you have correctly pointed out, in North America, the the response rate is higher for caucasians than asians than african americans, this is because most of the Hep C cases in North America are of genotype 1. For genotype 2 and 3, which are the dominant ones in Asia (the notable exception being Japan), the response rate to SoC is actually pretty good (i.e. >80%). So in a way, both you and the Merck Asia Exec are correct