October 5, 2015

New Oral Treatment Eliminates Hepatitis C

By Editor

A once-daily, oral treatment that includes a combination of grazoprevir and elbasvi, appears highly effective in eliminating detectable amounts of the hepatitis C virus.  These results were recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver that causes inflammation. According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), approximately 75-80% of hepatitis C infections become chronic, which can, over time, lead to liver damage, liver cancer and even death.

A reduction in the volume of the hepatitis C virus in the body can decrease progression of liver damage and its effects, including liver cancer; therefore, anti-viral therapy is an important approach to treatment.

Anti-viral treatment for hepatitis C often includes interferon and ribavirin – agents that are associated with significant side effects, drastically reducing quality of life for patients. Furthermore, cure rates of hepatitis C with interferon and ribavirin remain suboptimal.

Research has been focused on identifying agents that eliminate or significantly reduce the volume of hepatitis C in the body while being well tolerated by patients.

Researchers recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of an oral agent that is a combination of grazoprevir and elbasvir in the treatment of hepatitis C.

The study included 60 centers in the United States, Europe, Australia, Scandinavia and Asia.  Patients received the oral, once-daily treatment that included grazoprevir/elbasvir for 12 weeks.

The impact of treatment with grazoprevir/elbasvir was determined by measuring hepatitis C virus levels 12 weeks after the completion of treatment.  Having an undetectable amount of the virus in a patient established through laboratory processes (or levels so low they are considered undetectable) 12 weeks after completion of treatment is referred to as a sustained viral response (SVR12).

In this trial, treatment with grazoprevir/elbasvir resulted in 95% of patients achieving SVR12.  The most common side effects were headache, fatigue and nausea.

The researchers reported that “this once-daily, all-oral, fixed-combination regimen represents a potent new therapeutic option for chronic HCV infection.”

Although longer follow-up is necessary to determine the durability of these responses, this treatment approach appears promising in potentially reducing the risks of developing liver cancer caused by chronic hepatitis C infection.

Reference: Zeuzem S, Ghalib R, Reddy R, et al. Grazoprevir–Elbasvir Combination Therapy for Treatment-Naive Cirrhotic and Noncirrhotic Patients With Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Genotype 1, 4, or 6 Infection: A Randomized TrialC-EDGE Treatment-Naive Trial of Grazoprevir–Elbasvir. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2015;163(1):1-13. doi:10.7326/M15-0785.

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CONDITIONS OF THE GI TRACT