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FDA Approves New Treatment for Hepatitis C

Update Date: Dec 07, 2013 11:46 AM EST

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug for chronic Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C affects around three million Americans and is the country's leading cause of liver cancer and live transplants. Once hepatitis C starts to affect the liver, some of the symptoms include failing liver, jaundice and fatigue. The new treatment option will make management of the disease easier and more effective.

"Today marks a landmark advance in the treatment of hepatitis C, opening up new opportunities to stop the spread of this virus and the ravages of this disease," Dr. John Ward, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) division of viral hepatitis, said according to Reuters Health.

The drug, sofosbuvir, which will be sold as Sovaldi, is manufactured by Gilead Sciences Inc. For some patients, the drug will be the first medication that can be taken for 12 weeks with one additional option and no interferon. Interferon is an injection that can lead to the development of flu-like symptoms. According to the FDA, patients with two strains of the virus called genotypes two and three will be able to take sofobuvir without interferon. Patients with the most common type, genotype one, would have to take sofosbuvir with interferon and ribavirin. Treatment for these patients could be up to 24 weeks.

The results from the trial revealed that not all of these treatment regimens are 100 percent effective in treating chronic hepatitis C. In one of the studies headed by Ira Jacobson, a liver secialist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, 89 percent of the patients who had genotype one, were cured within twelve weeks. In the longer treatment route, 75 percent of people with genotype one were cured.

According to Gilead, the wholesale cost for a month's worth of Solvadi is $28,000.

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