Researchers recruited 88 HCV patients who had never received treatment or did not respond well to standard treatments. The patients were randomly assigned to seven treatment groups receiving different combination therapy doses or a placebo for up to 13 days. After 14 days, the patients in the highest dose treatment groups — both previously treated and untreated — experienced a substantial reduction in viral load as compared to those getting the placebo. The researchers predict that the new combination therapy — which exhibited no severe side-effects or signs of drug resistance common in single-drug therapies — could clear HCV infection in 8-12 weeks.
“Clearly, hepatitis C is a very serious problem,” says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. “Considering the scope of the problem, the inadequacy of previous treatment, and apparent excellence of this treatment, I think we have reason to be excited about this therapy.”
This writer, who worked as a technician in a HCV immunology laboratory before coming to ACSH, adds that many patients don’t experience symptoms for several months or more. “They often won’t know they’re infected unless they go to a clinic for testing or get diagnosed while incarcerated or hospitalized. A majority of these patients are addicted to drugs, so even if they receive testing, they are not as likely to return for follow-up appointments or be able to pay for the expensive drug therapy. Therefore, if a new treatment such as this one can clear the virus in a matter of weeks and require fewer doctor visits, I believe that it would be a great benefit to public health.”