New treatment cures patients with hepatitis C
Winning FDA approval in October, Harvoni can cure patients of hepatitis C in as few as eight weeks.
Harvoni is a pill-a-day regimen that combines two medications: sofosbuvir and ledipasvir, which attack the hepatitis C virus in different ways. It is the first therapy available that does not need to be complemented with a weekly injection of interferon, thereby reducing some of the more severe side effects of treatment. In addition to the daily medication, patients see their provider for a blood test every four weeks to check viral load, complete blood count (CBC) and liver function. A final blood draw is taken 12 weeks after the completion of therapy to determine if treatment is successful and the patient is cured.
“In just the past year, there have been remarkable advances in how we are able to treat hepatitis C,” said Dr. Steven Norris, infectious disease physician at Community Physician Network. “With these new medications, treatment is far more tolerable. Side effects are significantly reduced, as is amount of time involved in treatment. Most importantly, cure rates have increased dramatically to over 90 percent.”
The treatment is approved for patients with the main subtype of hepatitis, genotype 1, which represents about 70 percent of cases. Hepatitis C is the number one cause of death from liver disease as well as the number one cause of death for HIV. Treating for hepatitis C reduces a patient’s risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver, and ultimately, their liver cancer risk.
Dr. Norris explains that medications like Harvoni represent a tremendous medical breakthrough, as hepatitis C is one of the first viral illnesses for which there is a cure. He recommends that anyone born between 1945 and 1965 be tested for the disease, regardless of their risk factors, as many who are infected are asymptomatic.
Infectious disease care at Community
Community Physician Network infectious disease care is now offering Harvoni, the first all-oral regimen to treat hepatitis C. Patients with hepatitis C are encouraged to reach out to their primary care providers to learn more.