Today is World Hepatitis Day, and physicians are applauding two new drugs they hope will make great strides in the treatment and eradication of hepatitis C, Bon Secours Hampton Roads said in a news release.
Hepatitis C (HCV) is the most common chronic blood-borne viral infection in the U.S. Adding the new drugs, boceprevir and telaprevir, to the current treatment of chronic HCV represents a significant advance in the medical community’s ability to help patients with this chronic liver disease.
In clinical studies, boceprevir and telaprevir, known as direct-acting antiviral therapies (DAAs), proved effective at curing many hepatitis C patients by blocking a key enzyme that the virus needs to replicate and spread.
"For the first time in 20 years, we’ll be able to cure more hepatitis C patients than we’re not curing,” said Mitchell L. Shiffman, MD, medical director of the Liver Institute of Virginia, based at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News.
The two drugs will be effective not only in HCV patients who have not been previously treated, but in patients who have failed to be cured during previous treatments of peginterferon and ribavirin. The vast majority of patients will be able to achieve a 70% cure rate, even while the duration of therapy is shortened by five months – from 48 weeks to 28 weeks.
These two new drugs are the tip of the iceberg in treating liver diseases. At least 10 other anti-viral agents like boceprevir and telaprevir are currently being tested by several pharmaceutical companies, Bon Secours said.
Shiffman and his staff are evaluating many of these new medications and enrolling patients in clinical trials. The Liver Institute is the only program in Virginia able to treat and cure chronic HCV with only anti-viral agents, Bon Secours said.
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