Have We Cured Hepatitis C? New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate
Hepatitis C is the number one cause of cirrhosis, liver transplants, and liver cancer in the United States. According to the World Health Organization, 130 to 150 million people suffer globally from chronic hepatitis C infections, and 350,000 to 500,000 people die each year.
Interferon is the traditional treatment for the virus, but many patients, such as those with cirrhosis, cannot take it. A revolutionary new treatment is changing medicine. The new treatment is completely interferon-free. In its clinical trial, this new treatment has cured over 90 percent of patients with cirrhosis who were not able to receive interferon therapy. A study on it will be released on April 12 in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The study was conducted by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and had exceptional results. Twelve weeks after the last dose of treatment, no hepatitis C virus was detected in the bloodstream of 91.8 percent of patients. After the patients were treated for 24 weeks, 95.9 percent were found to be virus-free. The data involved the outcomes of 380 patients at 78 different sites, including hospitals in Spain, Germany, England, Canada, and the U.S. The study documented patients’ blood samples over a three-year period and found that in that time none experienced a long-term, late relapse.
Many of the patients who had taken part in the study were unsure about the new treatment. They had tried many treatments before. The high recovery rate of the new treatment changed the skeptics’ minds and has given hope to the current population living with the disease.
It is expected that the combination medication regimen will be on the market as early as the end of 2014 or very late in 2015.