Vertex Pharmaceuticals has received Health Canada approval for Incivek (telaprevir) tablets for a broad group of people with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C with compensated liver disease, including cirrhosis.

Incivek is approved for use in all three major groups of people who have not achieve a viral cure despite prior treatment – relapsers, partial responders and null responders.

The drug is given as two 375mg tablets three times daily for 12 weeks in combination with pegylated-interferon and ribavirin.

The drug’s Phase III studies, which included more than 2,500 people with hepatitis C, showed that people who received combination treatment achieved higher rates of viral cure compared to those who received pegylated-interferon and ribavirin alone, regardless of their prior treatment experience.

Eric Yoshida, head of the Division of Gastroenterology at the University of British Columbia said that the early diagnosis and the effective treatment of hepatitis C are critical to preventing the long-term consequences of the disease, which can include end-stage cirrhosis, liver cancer and the need for a transplant.

“Incivek is an important new treatment option because it has been shown to help clear the virus for nearly four out of five patients new to treatment,” Yoshida said.