Hepatitis C Drugs: A Bona Fide Medical Miracle

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There are good drugs and not-so-good drugs. Much of this is determined by the underlying disease or infection. Even in 2015, there are many diseases for which there is no good treatment. Medicine is not fair, and all the research in the world will never change this.

On the other hand, perhaps once in a generation, pharmaceutical research hits a grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Game over.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom, a subject matter expert in hepatitis C (HCV) says, I have never seen a better example a such a grand slam. The results of a two-plus decade long campaign to not only tame, but also completely obliterate a very serious viral infection are nothing short of amazing. HCV infection is not only serious the leading cause of liver transplants in the US but very prevalent (3.2 million). Worldwide, there are about 170 million people who are infected about four-times that of HIV. Until recently, there were no good options. This has sure changed and then some.

The results of a study recently reported by Fierce Pharma are nothing short of astounding. AbbVie, formerly Abbott, announced that in a Phase III clinical trial, 100 percent of patients who were infected with genotype 1b the most difficult strain of the virus to treat attained a sustained virological response (SVR) following treatment with ViekiraPak, a combination of two different HCV replication inhibitors. (SVR is defined as the absence of detectable HCV six months following cessation of treatment. This is a cure. The virus does not come back.)

Dr. Bloom explains, There are technically 11 genotypes of HCV, however, only a few are of clinical significance. The predominant strain differs by geography (see below). Genotype 1 accounts for about 60 percent of all infections. It is also the most difficult to treat, especially the 1b strain, which makes the efficacy of ViekiraPak even more amazing.

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(Dr. Bloom was on the right track back in 2011. You can read his article In Hepatitis C, Watch Out for Abbott here.)

Also in hep C news, The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases along with two other groups has issued new guidance regarding testing for the infection. The report entitled HCV Testing and Linkage to Care identifies those individuals who are at greatest risk of unknowingly being infected.

The report recommends that anyone who was born between 1945 and 1965 should undergo a one-time test, as well as those with certain risk factors, including injecting drugs, long-term hemodialysis, transfusions and organ transplants prior to 1992. Also, tattoos.

Dr. Bloom notes, The absence any mention of sexual activity is no accident. Unlike HIV, HCV infection from even unprotected sex is very rare."