A new treatment for hepatitis C that can be combined with other medications to make the treatment of the disease that damages the liver easier, faster and more effective was approved on Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Called sofosbuvir, the new drug manufactured by Gilead Sciences is part of a new revolution in treatment, said a specialist in treating liver disease at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital.
A specialist in liver said that positive news is that within 18 months a series of new medications should be approved that will simplify immensely how hepatitis C is treated for close to everyone, as well as increase the cure rate to more than 90%. The liver specialist quickly pointed out that he currently does not have ties financially to drug makers.
Over three million people living in the U.S. have the hepatitis C virus, which is the leading cause in the U.S. of liver transplants and liver cancer.
Most of those infected do not have symptoms until the liver starts to fail, which causes fatigue, jaundice and other related problems.
Until now, three-drug treatments have been the standard and are taken for a period of 24 to 48 weeks. Interferon self injections are required and a therapy of the immune system at times causes flu-like symptoms that are difficult to handle, along with mode swings.
The just approved Sofosbuvir, which has Sovaldi as a brand name, is the first treatment that some hepatitis C patients can take for only 12 weeks, with one other drug but no interferon is needed.
The approval by the FDA for the combination that is no-interferon was for two strains of Hepatitis C, referred to as genotypes 2 and 3.
For the majority of patients with genotype 1, the more common of the strains, sofosbuvir was approved to be taken along with interferon and ribavirin an older medication. Some patients might have to take the treatment for up to 24 weeks.
None of the different regimens is effective 100%. However, in one of the studies, 89% of the patients with genotype 1 who took the version that was three drugs were cured of the disease in 12 weeks.