The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a second hepatitis C drug within two weeks, after almost a decade of no new treatments for the disease.

Incivek (telaprevir), manufactured by Vertex Pharmaceuticals , will be used with an interferon therapy made up of peginterferon alfa and ribavirin.

The drug will be made available to patients who have either not received interferon-based drug therapy for their infection or have not responded adequately to prior therapies.

The news follows the regulator’s endorsement of Merck’s Victrelis (boceprevir) on 16 May.

Prior to the approvals, the standard of care for patients with chronic hepatitis C infection was peginterferon alfa and ribavirin for 48 weeks, but less than 50% of patients respond to this therapy.

A Phase III trial for Incivek showed that the infection was no longer detected in the blood of 79% of previously untreated participants, 24 weeks after stopping treatment.

FDA director for the Office of Antimicrobial Products Edward Cox said, “With the approval of Incivek, there are now two important new treatment options for hepatitis C that offer a greater chance at a cure for some patients with this serious condition.”

“The availability of new therapies that significantly increase responses while potentially decreasing the overall duration of treatment is a major step forward in the battle against chronic hepatitis C infection,” added Cox.