MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2018

New injection-free drug combination cures toughest cases of hepatitis C

Johns Hopkins Center for Viral Hepatitis released study results on Wednesday that suggested curing hepatitis C, which kills more Americans than HIV/AIDS, is about to get simpler and more effective.

Researchers said that combination treatments that involved oral antiviral drugs daclatasvir and sofosbuvir were safe and effective in the treatment of hepatitis C. The study showed the combination therapy worked even in patients who were not cured by conventional "triple therapy."

"This research paves the way for safe, tolerable and effective treatment options for the vast majority of those infected with hepatitis C," Johns Hopkins Center for Viral Hepatitis Medical Director Mark Sulkowski said. "Standard treatments for the disease are going to improve dramatically within the next year, leading to unprecedented advances for the treatment of patients infected with the hepatitis C virus."

The study was conducted on 211 men and women across the United States and Puerto Rico. The patients had any of the three major types of hepatitis.

Among patients with genotype 1, which is the most common strain in the U.S., 98 percent of previously untreated patients and 98 percent of patients whose infection remained after triple therapy were considered cured. They had no detectable virus in their blood three months after treatment ended. Results were similar for those infected with genotype 2 and 3.

Sulkowski said pill-only regimens would make curing hepatitis C easier, and prevent the development of liver cancer and failure. He said less than 5 percent of approximately 3.2 million Americans with hepatitis C have been cured, and simpler treatment regimens could not come soon enough.