Merck will stop selling Victrelis in the U.S. by the end of this year. The company cites "advances in treatment practices"--namely, the new all-oral drug cocktails offered by Gilead and AbbVie--and the shrinking demand they've caused.


Vertex Pharmaceuticals said much the same thing in August, when it announced it would stop selling Victrelis' head-to-head rival, Incivek. That drug went off the U.S. market in October, thanks to diminishing market share--and "available alternative treatments."


It was a big comedown for Incivek, which had been hailed as the fastest drug launch ever, with a quick sprint to blockbuster-level sales. Less so for Victrelis, which peaked at $504 million. Still, it's a turnabout; both meds were big advances in hep C treatment at the time, because they vastly improved the effectiveness of older interferon-based cocktails, and shortened the length of treatment. When the next generation of all-oral treatments neared the market, however, doctors started putting off treating patients to wait for the newer meds.