Since 2011, DAAs have been coming down the Hep C pipeline, until now. 2017 marked the year where announcements of new meds not only slowed its pace, but many were cancelled. Janssen, as of Sept. 2017 discontinued use of Olysio, a DAA which acted as part of a combination therapy, the only lone NS3/4 Protease inhibitor. Without a unique NS3/4 inhibitor, combination therapies will be more likely to include combination meds like Harvoni. Most meds target the NS5a or NS5b cleavage point, which means when a patient has RAVs which prevent that protease inhibitor from working at that cleavage point, it becomes harder to target the virus.
As Gilead and AbbVie continued to push on with newer iterations of their Hep C treatment meds, Merck abandoned two drugs which were currently in the Hep C Pipeline. At an 8 week price point of $26,400, Mavyret is dragging Gilead's Vosevi and Epclusa to push not for lower prices but shorter treatment durations to lower the price point to insurers. Merck's treatment is still standing at its 12 week price point of around $54,000 making competition with the Pan-genomic Mavyret almost impossible. Mavyret contains an NS 3/4 and an NS5a inhibitor, whereas Epclusa targets NS5a and NS5b cleavage points. These subtle differences have an impact on patient efficacy due to RAVs which affect these cleavage points.
The empty pipeline means that if a cure cannot be found within these combinations insurers decide, then patients may die. As with more 2 in 1 pills like Epclusa and Mavyret, it will become harder for patients to find individualized therapies.