HealthDay News (01.02.13)
Pills may soon replace injections with interferon as the preferred treatment for hepatitis C, according to studies conducted in Texas and New Zealand. The University of Texas Health Science Center study reported a 95 percent success rate in suppressing blood levels of genotype 1 hepatitis C, the most common form of the virus. The pill regimen included a combination of the drugs ABT-450/r and ABT-333. The New Zealand study tested the new drug sofosbuvir in combination with existing therapies on groups of people infected with hepatitis C genotypes 1, 2, or 3. Researchers stated a combination of sofosbuvir and ribavirin achieved 100 percent success in suppressing genotypes 2 and 3, and 84 percent success with genotype 1.
The current treatment for hepatitis C requires patients to take ribavirin and three weekly injections of interferon for 48 weeks. Interferon suppresses the entire immune system and can cause flu-like side effects for the entire course of treatment. Both of the new drugs target only the hepatitis c virus and require 12 weeks of treatment. Side effects of the new treatments were not severe enough to cause participants to stop treatment.
Over three million people in the United States have hepatitis C, which is spread through contact with the blood of a hepatitis C-infected person. Chronic hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver failure.
The full report on ABT-450/r and ABT-333, “Exploratory Study of Oral Combination Antiviral Therapy for Hepatitis C,” was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2013; 368:45-63). The full report on sofosbuvir, “Nucleotide Polymerase Inhibitor Sofosbuvir plus Ribavirin for Hepatitis C,” was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2013; 368:34-44).