The latest research & treatment news about Hepatitis C infection, diagnosis, symptoms and treatment.

Drug Aids in Hepatitis B Cirrhosis

The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Glaxo Wellcome PLC today released new data indicating its drug Zeffix may help prevent chronic Hepatitis B sufferers from developing cirrhosis.

The data from three large clinical studies showed a smaller proportion of chronic Hepatitis B patients treated with Zeffix progressed to cirrhosis, or liver scarring, compared with those treated with placebo or interferon-alpha.

The results were presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver in Naples, and supported by other data showing additional Zeffix benefits, Glaxo said.

Only 1.8 percent of Zeffix-treated patients progressed to cirrhosis, compared with 7.1 percent placebo-treated patients and 9.5 percent of those treated with interferon-alpha.

Glaxo said the results showed a continued increase in the incidence of e-antigen seroconversion — an immune response to the virus that is thought to predict long-lasting remission of the disease — and a continued reduction in levels of viral replication.

Zeffix is available in the Philippines, Canada and the U.S. and approved in China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Pakistan and New Zealand. Regulatory applications have been made in Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Europe.

Hepatitis B is a potentially fatal liver disease — the ninth-most common killer worldwide. About 350 million people are long-term carriers of the Hepatitis B virus and nearly one-third are expected to develop progressive inflammation of the liver, leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Previously, therapies for chronic Hepatitis B were limited to interferons, which are injected and can lead to unpleasant side effects.

AP-NY-04-11-99 1732EDT

Copyright 1998 The Associated Press.