Roche’s $230m acquisition of Anadys Pharmaceuticals today highlights the Swiss group’s attempts to gain some ground in a race in which it surprisingly lags the competition. Having dominated the treatment landscape for hepatitis C for the last ten years with best-selling interferon and ribavirin standard of care products in Pegasys and Copegus, Roche has struggled to keep pace with the development of novel therapies which are set to revolutionise the field.
The Anadys deal means Roche now has a pipeline of candidates from each of the three most encouraging new classes of hepatitis C drug (see table below). Yet the Swiss healthcare giant’s progress to this point has been disappointingly slow, hampered by some in-house research failures and partnering choices which so far appear to have backed the wrong horse. Further deals will be required if Roche is to make up for lost time.