The FDA has approved Transformative advances in drug treatments for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C for the estimated 3.2 million Americans that have the disease so they can lead a longer and a healthier life. This is good news for baby boomers and they make op three out of four adults that have the hepatitis C virus. There are also millions of Americans that have the virus, but don’t know it yet.
Hepatitis C is curable and there are drug therapies today that are easier and effective for patients to take. Deputy Director of the Division of Antiviral Products in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Jeffrey S. Murray, M.D is an internist with a specialty in infectious diseases and says that new drugs are working well for Hepatitis C.
Curable and Preventable Disease
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver and it refers to a group of viral infections which impact the liver. The common types are A, B, and C hepatitis and each is caused by a different virus.
The most common chronic blood-borne infection in the U.S., is hepatitis C. The disease doesn’t have a vaccine, but it can be prevented by avoiding risky behaviors that spread the disease like sharing syringes, needles or other drug injection equipment.
If you were diagnosed with hepatitis C in the past it meant that you faced many months of painful injections. Today, there have been new strides in science and alternative therapies.
The interferon-based injections make those that take them ill and they have flulike symptoms says Murray. The interferon lasts about six months to a year, but only cures about 40% to 50% of those with hepatitis C.
Patients with advanced liver disease couldn’t take traditional treatments because it would make them sick. Patients today with hepatitis C, can use pill combinations that have a high cure rate and work faster than older injections.
The pills today have 90%-100% viral cure rates in about 12 weeks’ time. This reduces the treatment to three months down from a year. It’s also much easier for hepatitis C patients to swallow a pill than to take a pain injection.
New regimes for hepatitis C include Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), which is the first approved drug to treat various types of hepatitis C without the need for any co-administration of interferon. The FDA has approved three protease inhibitors in recent years called Victrelis (boceprevir), Olysio (simeprevir), and Incivek (telaprevir) for the treatment of hepatitis C. Olysio is a protease inhibitor which blocks a protein that is required by hepatitis C to replicate itself. This drug is a component of combination treatments for hepatitis C.
The FDA provides information and gives notice of public events where you have opportunities to comment on policies, issues, and attend upcoming advisory committee meetings for people that have hepatitis C or B.