As an alternative to long term painful injections, two oral medications could provide effective and short duration treatment for difficult-to-treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, according to results of two recent studies published in the Lancet. The studies focused on hepatitis C genotype 1.
Chronic HCV infections are being treated with three drugs regimen including ribavirin, a protease inhibitor and pegylated interferon (PEG). The combined therapy augments immune response and suppresses viral replication. However, the regimen has its own drawbacks such as prolonged treatment with multi-pills and injections regimen, drug intolerance with side effects including depression and anemia.
Recent research breakthroughs introduced direct-acting antiviral agents (DAA) and reduced the need, side effects of ribavirin and interferons.
Two studies included 645 patients across 18 countries. The participants were assigned to receive oral Asunaprevir and Daclatasvir for 6 months. Statistically significant cure rates were reported in 90% and 82% of previously untreated and standard regimen intolerant patients, respectively.
An independent study conducted by Dr. Eric Lawitz at University of Texas included 167 HCV patients with genotype 1a and 1b. The participants were assigned to receive either 12 weeks or 24 weeks treatment of once-daily oral sofosbuvir with simeprevir with or without ribavirin. Within 12 weeks, complete cure was reported in 93% of patients including liver cirrhosis and interferon treatment unresponsive patients.