FDA approves new, effective hepatitis C medication

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Thursday that it approved the new medication Osylio for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C infection.

Experts classified Osylio as safe and effective. It is expected to reduce reliance on existing HCV therapies, which can be ineffective or produce serious side effects.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend all persons belonging to the baby boomer generation be tested for HCV infection, as this population is five times more likely to be infected than any other adult population. Baby boomers, or those born between 1945 and 1965, account for 67 percent of all HCV infections and 72 percent of all HCV-associated deaths.

The CDC reports approximately 3.2 million Americans living with HCV infections, but believes there could be up to one million infected persons in the U.S. that do not know they are infected. The disease causes minimal symptoms initially, but later progresses to cause life-threatening complications of the liver, such as liver cancer or end-stage liver disease.

HCV is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person, which resulted in its transmission through blood transfusions and organ transplants until widespread blood supply screenings began in 1992. Hepatitis C has caused more deaths in the U.S. than HIV since 2007.