New HCV Treatment Recommended for Non-Responders
March 28, 2007
Help for Hep C
By Margot Kim
Nearly 4 million Americans are living with hepatitis C, and more than a quarter million of them have failed standard treatment options. Now, a newer, tougher drug is curing the virus in more people.
For six years, Louise Overman has battled hepatitis C — a virus that killed the only two people she ever knew who had it. “To clear the hepatitis C was paramount to me,” she says. Her first treatment — a yearlong ordeal — didn’t work. Her second treatment also fell short, but her goal has remained unchanged.
“Cure it. Kill the monster.”
Hepatologist Mitchell Shiffman, M.D., says that’s a tough job, but it’s possible. “It is the only virus that we are aware of that can actually be cured. It can be completely eradicated from the body,” he tells Ivanhoe.
But less than half of people with the most common type of hepatitis C are cured. Now, a drug called Infergen is changing the future for patients who fail standard treatment.
“Re-treatment with Infergen at a daily dose can render an additional 25 percent of these resistant patients’ virus undetectable,” Dr. Shiffman of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, says. Drugs called interferons are commonly used to fight hepatitis C. Infergen is a highly potent interferon that is injected once a day for one year.
Dr. Shiffman says Infergen is FDA-approved and would likely be offered to patients who have failed previous treatments rather than given as a first treatment. That’s because Infergen needs to be taken every day as opposed to once a week with other interferons.
Despite failing two different treatments, Shiffman was ready for round three. She was right. After just three months on Infergen, her virus was gone.
“That’s just wonderful news. That is really amazing,” Overman says. And she says it’s a relief to finally put her six-year battle behind her and get on with her life.
This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, which offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, click on: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Virginia Commonwealth University Health System
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