Hepatitis C progress in pipeline
New drugs to treat virus expected be available in 2014-15
January 30, 2013
For more on this rapidly changing landscape, we turned to Dr. Donald M. Jensen, director of the Center for Liver Diseases at University of Chicago Medicine and a noted hepatitis C researcher, with more than 100 peer-reviewed articles .
Q: Tell me about the new drugs and what they mean for patients.
A: In May 2011, two new drugs were approved — telaprevir and boceprevir — and were added to the backbone of interferon, which has been around since the early 1990s, and ribavirin (since 1998), and have always been the standard of care. The old therapy had a lot of side effects — such as aches, severe fatigue and depression. Even then, the cure rate was only about 40 percent.
Q: Did the new drugs eliminate the nasty side effects?
A: No. Sometimes, it aggravated them ... with anemia and a skin rash. It wasn't pleasant, but the success rate jumped to 70 percent, which was nothing to scoff at. But now there are even better drugs in the pipeline, such as Sofosbuvir, Daclatasvir, Simeprevir, Faldaprevir, ABT450, Danoprevir, Apeline, which should be available in the 2014-15 time frame. The treatment is shorter — 12 to 24 weeks vs. 24 to 48 weeks — and has fewer side effects and even better success rates (90 to100 percent cure rates). Many patients with mild cases are deciding to wait.
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