Do you find our website to be helpful?
Yes   No

The Hepatitis C Renaissance

Hepatitis C Facts

A renaissance in the treatment of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)

Twenty-five years of HCV’s dark ages are over.  Plagued by poor understanding of HCV, primitive and barbaric treatments (specifically interferon) with significant toxicity and limited success were all we had to offer—until now. In 2009, scientists discovered how to replicate HCV in mice, opening the doors to a renaissance in HCV drug development.

The new age Hepatitis C treatment

Within the past year, interferon-free drug regimens for every genotype (sub-type of HCV) have come to market.  While we are still gaining important experience with these drugs, a few things are clear: The new HCV drugs are very effective with greater than 90% cure, even in those with cirrhosis, and are easy to take with minimal side effects.  Better yet, several additional drugs are currently under study with very promising results; the near future will offer even more effective, shorter, easier, and less costly treatment regimens.

Hepatitis C genotype 1 (and 4)

Type 1 HCV accounts for more than 70% of infections in the United States and traditionally was very resistant to treatment. Harvoni© became available October 10th, 2014 representing the first interferon-free regimen consisting of one pill (containing ledipasvir and sofosbuvir) taken once a day for 12-weeks with >94% clearance.  Side effects include headaches and fatigue, but not a single study participant stopped the drugs due to side effects—a gigantic leap forward compared to interferon-based treatments. More recently, Viekira© and Olysio-Sovaldi© treatment regimens were approved, with the promise of several more to come in 2015.

Hepatitis C genotype 2 and 3

Approval of Sovaldi© in combination with Ribavirin© has improved cure rates for HCV genotypes 2 and 3 from 70% to greater than 90%. However, this combination eliminates the need for interferon, but still relies on ribavirin—a drug with the potentially serious side effect of anemia (low red blood cell counts.)  Better regimens, which avoid both interferon and ribavirin, are just around the corner.

Who should get treated for hepatitis C in this new era?

With such great new medications, it would seem that everyone should get treated, except for one serious problem: cost.  The new drug regimens cost in excess of $80,000; it would cost 280 billion dollars (for the drugs alone) to treat every American with Hepatitis C. Obviously, insurance companies have balked at the thought of an $80,000 drug, and perhaps rightfully so.  Less than a third of all persons infected with HCV will ever develop cirrhosis or complications—treatments should be offered to patients who are at a high risk of developing cirrhosis. Fortunately, for most it takes 30 years or more to develop cirrhosis.  See a Gastroenterologist to determine if, and when, treatment might be needed.

You Might Also Enjoy...

What You Should Know About C. diff

C. difficile (Clostridium difficile) is an infection that should be talked about more often than it is despite the fact that it infects half a million Americans each year.

Treating Chronic Diarrhea

Diarrhea is very common. When you have diarrhea, your bowel movements are loose and watery. In most cases, diarrhea lasts a couple of days.

Symptoms of a Gallstone

Gallstones are a very common problem. You're at risk of developing gallstones if you're overweight or obese, female, or 40 or over.

Do I Have Hemorrhoids?

Wondering if you have hemorrhoids? Hemorrhoids are very common, especially among people ages 45 to 75. Hemorrhoids are inflamed and swollen veins around the anus or in the lower rectum.