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Hepatitis C patients found to require lesser drugs for treatment

Update Date: Mar 27, 2016 07:52 AM EDT
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Using less drugs against hepatitis C is healthier and significantly cheaper for nearly half of the patients, according to a study.

Since hepatitis C patients are often cured before completing a treatment regimen, researchers at Loyola University noted that less of the drugs is needed to fight the disease.

Treatment cost for the average patient would go down by 16 to 20 percent, and as much as 50 percent for 40 percent of the patients. 

The researchers at Loyola University devised a computation that predicts the length of time patients need direct-acting antiviral drugs. Using more frequent blood testing, the researchers were able to determine hepatitis C levels and predict when the drug sofosbuvir, combined with one of three others, could be stopped.

Dr. Scott Cotler, a professor at Loyola University, pointed out that treatment is currently standardized for a set period of time, not tailored to the patient, according to a report by UPI. Cotler added that in many cases there was a prolonged use of expensive drugs with essentially no additional positive effect.

The study, published in the Journal of Hepatology, was based on finding on 58 people with hepatitis C being treated at three medical centers in France. Each was treated for 12 weeks, with 19 receiving sofosbuvir and simeprevir, 19 given sofosbuvir and daclatasvir and 20 treated with sofosbuvir and ledipasvir.

Using early viral-kinetic analysis, researchers found that hepatitis C levels could be predicted with frequent blood testing.

Dr. Harel Dahari, an assistant professor at Loyola University, noted that this was the first time  this approach has been tested in hepatitis C patients undergoing direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatment. 

She added that regimens with low pill burdens, and few adverse effects, could improve patient adherence in difficult to treat populations."

The study,  entitled "HCV kinetic and modeling analyses indicate similar time to cure among sofosbuvir combination regimens with declatasvir, simeprevir or ledipasvir", include collaborators Frederik Graw of Germany; Evaldo S.A. Araújo of Brazil; and Guillaume Penaranda, Emilie Coquet, Laurent Chiche, Aurelie Riso, Christophe Renou, Marc Bourliere, and Philippe Halfonof France. It was published in the Journal of Hepatology.

An estimated 170 million people infection worldwide are infected with Hepatitis C,  which is a major cause of chronic liver disease. The recent approval of DAA medication revolutionized the treatment of HCV, but its high cost limits access to treatment, according to News Medical.

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