I spotted this on the wire this morning. It was inevitable and I wondered when the boys at Vertex would pull up the stakes and fold the tent. The only sad facet of this is how many lives were inadvertently affected by using this drug. Incivek by itself is not to blame. The crime was injecting Interferon behind it with the sure knowledge that a new genre of medicine was on the horizon capable of accomplishing the same thing with little or no collateral damage.
I liken it to building Zeppelins and filling them with hydrogen knowing full well that the risk of fire and explosion were far greater than using helium. Few know that Interferon, in it’s first incarnation in 1957, was developed to combat cancer. When it was discovered that an inordinate number of patients were dying from it rather than their cancer, it was pulled off the shelves. In the eighties, it was trotted out once again for the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Having little success again, it was retired until the Hepatitis C virus reared it’s ugly head in 1989.
Thinking they had finally tuned it up, they overdosed thousands of us with it in doses far larger than they should have. When this failed, they began the introduction of Ribavirin. We have continued to watch scientists stumble around in the dark and grab any perceived panacea they come across in a vain attempt to give Interferon credibility. Vertex’ introduction of Incevik was simply more insult heaped on injury for many. Soon, Telepravir and Bocepravir will end up on the same ash heap of medical science. I can’t wait.
With the advent of Sofosbuvir, Simeprevir, Daclatasvir and the new nucleotide protease inhibitors, patients are finally getting a useful drug that won’t kill them. The inventors of Interferon overlooked the golden rule of physicians-First do no harm.
For those of you out there who don’t get out much or have a newspaper subscription, please refrain from entering any new prophylaxis involving Interferon. It is yesterday’s news.