There are many compounds being studied to treat hepatitis C. A number of compounds for these targets are in early “test-tube” development or pre-clinical “animal” development phases. Most of these compounds, however, will never make it to trials in humans (clinical studies). In fact, only one in 1,000 compounds makes it to human testing. Of those drugs that make it to human testing only 1 in 5 will receive FDA marketing approval. Therefore, every effort has been made to focus this list only on treatments that are known to be in current or very near to active clinical development in human subjects.
When a company is ready to proceed to clinical trials, it files an Investigational New Drug Application (IND) with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Most clinical trials are designated as phases I, II, or III, and sometimes IV based on the type of questions that the study is seeking to answer.
In Phase I clinical trials, researchers test a new drug or treatment in a small group of people (20-80) for the first time to evaluate its safety, determine a safe dosage range, and identify side effects.
In Phase II clinical trials, the study drug or treatment is given to a larger group of people (100-300) to evaluate safety, optimal dose, and may include some information on the drug’s effectiveness. Most drugs that enter phase II studies do not progress on to phase III studies. This is because the drug is being tested in more people for a generally longer period of time so lack of effectiveness and a better picture of the effectiveness emerges.
In Phase III studies, the study drug or treatment is given to large groups of people (1,000-3,000) to confirm its effectiveness, monitor side effects, compare it to commonly used treatments, and collect information that will allow the drug or treatment to be used safely.
In Phase IV studies, the drug is already on the market for a particular indication, but is now being tested to answer questions about sub-populations of the same condition it is approved to treat, or for a different indication, use, or disease.
The testing of new drugs is a long process that typically takes about 12 years from pre-clinical testing to FDA approval and marketing to the general public.
Fast Track Status:
A drug can be granted fast track status by the Food and Drug Administration to help facilitate the development and to expedite the review process of new drugs that have the potential to address an unmet medical need for serious or life-threatening conditions such as hepatitis C.
Orphan Drug Status:
A status given to a certain drug by the Food and Drug Administration to encourage the development of drugs that are necessary, but are too expensive or unprofitable to develop under regular circumstances. Drugs being developed to treat orphan diseases (low prevalence in the population) offer tax reductions and marketing exclusivity for the drug manufacturer (up to 20 years).