New Interferon-Free Therapies for Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver.  Acute hepatitis C is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the Hepatitis C virus.  Approximately 75%-85% of people infected with the hepatitis C virus will develop chronic infection.   Chronic Hepatitis C is a long-term illness that occurs when the virus remains in a person’s body.  This often lasts a lifetime and may lead to serious liver problems, including cirrhosis or liver cancer.  In the United States, there was an estimated 29,718 cases of acute hepatitis C virus infections in 2013.   It is estimated that 2.7 million people in the US have chronic hepatitis C virus infection.  Most people do not even know they are infected because they often do not feel or look sick. (CDC Website: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/cfaq.htm#cFAQ13)

GANV now offers new interferon-free therapies for Hepatitis C.

In the past, treatment regimens for Hepatitis C were challenging.  They included multiple medicates with complicated dosing and were frequently difficult to tolerate.  Often despite as long as a year of treatment, the infection recurred when the medication was stopped.  With advances in medicine, treatment can now be offered with no injections.  These new medications are revolutionizing treatment for Hepatitis C patients.  Unlike previous combination therapies of injected pegylated interferon, these new therapies are taken as pills by mouth.  The treatments are more effective and have few side effects.  The most common side effects are mild headache and fatigue.

Hepatitis C has 6 known strains, or genotypes.  Several new medications are available to treat the infection and the specific medications used are determined by the genotype.

Harvoni:

Harvoni is a combination of 2 medications taken as one pill, once daily.  With either 8 or 12 weeks of therapy, Harvoni was proven to cure 96-99% of adult patients who had hepatitis C genotype 1 and no prior hepatitis C treatment*.  Similar impressive cure rates have been found in patients with prior treatment failures or cirrhosis of the liver.  Though used “off label,” it has been successfully used to cure patients with genotype 4 and 6 infections.

Viekira Pak:

Viekira Pak is another all-oral, Interferon free regimen for chronic genotype 1 hepatitis C patients.  There are three pills taken in the morning and one at night.  Depending on the subtype, some patients also take oral ribavirin twice a day while on Viekira pack.  After 12 weeks of treatment, there was an overall cure rate of 96-100%, in adult patients*.

Sovaldi:

Sovaldi when combined with ribavirin,  is used to treat genotype 2 and 3.  It is also approved for use in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin to treat GT 1 and 4.  Cure rates range from 89-96%*.
Recently Daklinza was approved in combination with Sovaldi to treat genotype 3 patients.  This shortened the length of treatment to 12 weeks, while improving the rate of cure.

Technivie:

This combination all oral treatment was recently approved by the FDA to treat genotype 4 patients.  It is the first regimen approved for this difficult to treat infection that does not required the use of interferon.

Breakthrough advancements in Hepatitis C treatments are expected to continue. A simple screening blood test, and these new highly successful therapies can have life-saving results.  In the past, the difficult and lengthy treatment led many patients to be apprehensive about being screened.  Now that the future is here, patients can be reassured that treatment is available, easy to tolerate and highly successful.

*That means the hepatitis C virus was not detected in the blood when measured three or more months after treatment was completed. 

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