Knocking Out Hepatitis C


Hepatitis C kills more people in the world than HIV and is the leading cause of liver transplants in the US. But that's about to change dramatically. A new drug may wipe out Hepatitis C infections with basically one pill a day for eight weeks and without severe side effects.

The current treatment is excruciating where side effects include terrible rashes, depression, and fever. It requires up to forty-eight weeks of ribaviron and interferon alpha. The interferon is what patients dread.

The new drugs, much like HIV medications, target enzymes the Hepatitis C virus requires to reproduce. But, unlike HIV where the virus' genetic information becomes part of someone's genetic makeup, the Hepatitis C virus does not do this. So, drugs can eliminate it and cure the patient. One of these new drugs is called sofosbuvir.

It inhibits the virus enzyme that copies its genetic information so that it can't reproduce. The drug is not paired with interferon injections for types two and three hepatitis C. But type one, which is what most Americans have, requires interferon although for a much shorter time.

Even better news is another pill called ledipasvir could eliminate the need for interferon and will soon be available. The public health benefit is tremendous. We'd see fewer liver transplants, liver cancer, and people dying from liver failure. The downside is the cost which could reach one hundred thousand dollars per treatment. Even so, they offer great promise.

Since Hepatitis C can lay latent for years, a number of baby boomers may be diagnosed in the coming years. So, don't wait. Get tested!

More Information

Hepatitis C
"Hepatitis C is a viral disease that leads to swelling (inflammation) of the liver."

Hepatitis C Information for the Public
"Hepatitis C is a liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness."

Hepatitis C, a Silent Killer, Meets Its Match
"Determined to get rid of the hepatitis C infection that was slowly destroying his liver, Arthur Rubens tried one experimental treatment after another. None worked, and most brought side effects, like fever, insomnia, depression, anemia and a rash that 'felt like your skin was on fire.'"