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Pricey New Pill Against Hepatitis C Approved

Update Date: Oct 12, 2014 12:39 AM EDT
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US regulators have approved Harvoni - a daily pill to treat hepatitis C that is simpler to administer than long-standing treatments. The Harvoni pill costs $94,500 for a 12-week course of treatment, or $1,125 per pill.

The pill was shown in trials to cure up to 99 percent of patients within two to three months. 

Reportedly the pill combines two agents - ledipasvir and sofosbuvir - a previously approved hepatitis C drug marketed by Gilead under the brand name Sovaldi.

In the press release, Gilead CEO John Martin said the company was "working to ensure rapid and broad access."

"Unlike other serious chronic diseases, hepatitis C can be cured, and Harvoni offers patients the potential for a cure in as little as eight weeks," added Martin.

Harvoni is the first treatment for hepatitis C that doesn't require administration with interferon or ribavirin, which can cause side effects like headache, fatigue and nausea.

Edward Cox, director of the Office of Antimicrobial Products at the Food and Drug Administration said the new treatments were "changing the treatment paradigm" for people with hepatitis C.

"Now, patients and health care professionals have multiple treatment options, including a combination pill to help simplify treatment regimens," he added.

Harvoni is the third drug that has been approved by the FDA in the past year to treat chronic hepatitis C infection. 

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