The 2012 UK Prix Galien Innovative Product Award was shared between Janssen and Merck & Co for their respective drugs to treat hepatitis C.
The prize, which recognises innovative medicines recently launched or granted a new indication in the UK, was jointly awarded to Janssen's Incivo (telaprevir) and Merck's Victrelis (boceprevir), both of which represent a major advance in the treatment of the infection.
“Hepatitis C infection is a perfect of example where the pharmaceutical industry can demonstrate and justify its place in healthcare by innovating for change and showing real gains to the world,” said chair of the judging panel, Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, who is also chair of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
He continued: “It is for this reason that the panel felt that both Janssen and MSD should be celebrated and congratulated for their part in addressing the ongoing challenge in managing HCV and its associated complications.”
Both Incivo and Victrelis were launched following a joint recommendation from NICE in April, 2012, which noted significant improvement in sustained virological response rates for patients who had taken one or the other.
The drugs work in the same way by inhibiting the activity of the NS3/4A serine protease, an enzyme that is essential for viral replication.
Commended in the Innovative Product Award category were AstraZeneca's cardiovascular disease drug Brilique (ticagrelor) and Shire's constipation treatment Resolor (prucalopride).
Also picking up a prize was Takeda's bone tumour treatment Mepact (mifamurtide), which was recognised in the Orphan Drug Award.
Introduced in 2008, the category rewards a product for conditions only found in small populations. Mepact is indicated to treat osteosarcoma, which is thought to affect one per 10,000 individuals in the EU.
“To investigate the role of this immune modulator in osteosarcoma required extensive and complex trial design with careful implementation of the study programme,” said Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, noting that the drug represented the first significant change in the conditions outcomes in 20 years.
“That Takeda managed to undertake the clinical development of this product – in such a niche indication – is hugely to their credit.”
Speaking at the event was former UK health secretary Andrew Lansley, who commented on the importance of rewarding innovation in pharma.
He said: “That message is that as you, the pharmaceutical industry, bring forward new treatments that will clearly add value and improve the quality of healthcare for patients – then the NHS should be at the forefront, internationally, of demonstrating that value.
“Our health service can be an exemplar and inspiration to people around the world because of its capacity to demonstrate the effectiveness of new treatments when they are used within the NHS.”
Prix Galien is also awarded in 11 other countries; Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Luxemburg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the US. An International Award is also held every two years.