New treatments continue to be developed to combat the scourge of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), which is estimated to have infected about 95% of UK haemophiliacs receiving blood products up to the mid-1980s, when heat-treated and later ‘recombinant’ clotting factors became available; virtually eliminating the risk today of contracting hepatitis through injection of anti-haemophiliac clotting products.
The latest step forward, which has been widely reported in medical literature and online media, is an experimental drug duo that in clinical trials on 362 people with chronic hepatitis C indicated a 69% success rate in clearing hepatitis C, without causing the severe side-effects often associated with current standard interferon based therapy.
The German led research indicated that two new drugs – faldaprevir and deleobuvir – when taken with ribavirin provided an effective treatment for hepatitis C. Significantly, this was achieved without the need to inject interferon; part of the current therapy that has proven difficult for many patients to tolerate. Several other pharmaceutical companies are also actively pursuing the development of interferon-free drug combinations for the treatment of hepatitis C.
Eliminating injected interferon from treatment regimens is a highly desirable goal in hepatitis C management, which makes this news very welcome. However, it should be stressed that the trial results varied across genotypes, with genotype-1b patients being particularly responsive.
More information on the new treatments can be found on the Heptitis C Trust website: http://www.hepc-trust.org.uk