A new antiviral drug, Incivek (developed by Vertex), has been approved for those affected with genotype 1 of Hepatitis Câ€”the most difficult to treat. Compared to previous hepatitis treatments (for genotype 1), it:
- has twice the success of previous Hepatitis C treatments, with 80% of those previously untreated or suffering a relapse “cured”.
- takes half the time of previous Hepatitis treatments (interferon and Ribaviron) for most patients (24 weeks instead of 48 weeks of hepatitis treatment).
- offers new hope to those previously treated unsuccessfully, with about 5 times as many (~36% vs. ~5%) showing no signs of the virus in their blood after treatment.
What Are The Draw Backs Of The New Hepatitis Treatment?
- The brutal side-effects of hepatitis treatment may be worse, although they will last for a shorter period of time. (Hepatitis treatment side-effect traditionally include depression/suicidal thoughts, and flu-like symptoms).
- All new hepatitis treatments contain some risk of causing the virus to mutate more than normal, creating an even harder to treat strain (comparable to bacterial superbugs).
- People with non-genotype 1 hepatitis c, and the about ~30% of them who haven’t been successfully treated with ribaviron and interferon, may not be helped by this drug.
How Do You Get Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C transmission occurs when you come into contact with infected blood. Most people became infected during the 70s and 80s, when blood banks unknowingly passed infected blood along, or by intravenous drug use (sharing used needles), by sex, and rarely by sharing items that may have come into contact with even a tiny amount of blood such as toothbrushes and razor blades.
Today, hep c transmission rates are going down. There are still occasional outbreaks when a (usually drug addicted) hospital employee uses a needle before patients use it, but those instances are relatively rare.
There is speculation that a large number of baby boomers, who came up during the years of highest transmission, may be infected with hepaititis c but not yet know it. It’s estimated that 4 million Americans are infected with hepatitis c, and 3 million are unaware.
Unfortunately, hepatitis c symptoms don’t appear until liver damage has already occurred, so the only way to know for sure is to get tested for hepatitis c infection.
Are you hopeful for this new hepatitis treatment, or wary from so many past failed hepatitis treatments?