Gilead Sciences Canada has been awarded this year’s Prix Galien Canada–Innovative Product Award for the development of Harvoni (ledipasvir/sofosbuvir), a once-daily combination pill for the treatment of chronic genotype 1 hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in adults.
This is an important recognition in pharmaceutical research and development, and is offered to a company as a reward for developing and launching a safe and effective drug therapy that has made a significant contribution to patient health and care in the Canadian market.
“At Gilead, we continue to be inspired and motivated by the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative therapeutics to improve lives in areas of unmet needs,” Josée Brisebois, Medical Director at Gilead Canada, said in a press release. “Harvoni, an example of our ongoing commitment to hepatitis C drug innovation, represents a significant advance in treatment options for patients with GT1 HCV infection. Harvoni simplifies treatment with high cure rates and limited side effects. Since its approval in 2014, 13,000 patients in Canada have been treated with Harvoni,” Brisebois said.
Hepatitis C is a slow-progressing disease that primarily affects the liver due to infection with HCV. The infection can induce liver damage, and chronically infected patients are prone to liver-related problems, including cirrhosis (destruction of normal liver tissue) and cancer, and may thus need a liver transplant. Infection with HCV can be spread by intravenous drug use, poorly sterilized medical material, and blood transfusions.
It is estimated that more than 250,000 Canadians have chronic HCV infection, of whom 44% remain undiagnosed because the first stages of this disease have mild or no symptoms. Genotype 1 is the most common form of HCV in Europe, followed by genotypes 2 and 3; genotypes 4-6 are predominant in Asia and Africa.
“Gilead Canada wishes to thank the Prix Galien Canada Jury, comprised of independent and eminent specialists involved in the sphere of Canadian and pharmaceutical research, for its recognition of Harvoni as a treatment that has transformed the way people with chronic GT1 HCV infection in Canada are treated,” said Brisebois.
“Gilead believes that access to innovative therapies such as Harvoni is an important step forward to successfully cure even more people. We continue to work with our partners to find efficient ways to reduce our country’s burden of chronic hepatitis C virus infection.” Brisebois concluded.
Gilead has operations in more than 30 countries worldwide, with headquarters in Foster City, Calif. Gilead Sciences Canada, Inc., is the Canadian affiliate of Gilead Sciences, Inc., and was established in Mississauga, Ontario in 2005.