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Merck & Co. has received FDA approval for the protease inhibitor boceprevir to be used in combination with PEGylated interferon and ribavirin for treating hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. To be marketed as Victrelis, the drug is the first new HCV treatment in more than a decade. Just days after getting the regulatory nod, Merck signed a nonexclusive pact with Roche, under which the Swiss company will promote Victrelis alongside Pegasys, a PEGylated interferon. The deal is expected to give Merck a leg up on Vertex Pharmaceuticals, which is poised to win approval for its own HCV treatment, telaprevir. Merck and Roche will also work together to explore novel combinations of HCV drugs.
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