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WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. (AP) — Drugmakers Merck & Co. and Roche are teaming up to market medicines for tough-to-treat hepatitis C, after battling for market share for at least a decade.

The new partnership comes just after Merck won U.S. regulatory approval for its Victrelis, the first major new treatment for the potentially deadly virus in 20 years.

Roche Holding AG sales staff will promote a new triple combination therapy: Victrelis pills, Roche's injected hepatitis C drug Pegasys and ribavirin pills. Ribavirin pills are available as a generic drug, plus Merck's brand-name version, Rebetol, and Roche's brand, Copegus.

Swiss-based Roche and Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., say the promotion will target U.S. physicians first, then expand to other countries.

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