Positive Data for Hepatitis C Drugs Presented by Gilead, AbbVie Bode Well for Patients

Gilead Sciences recently announced that clinical trials involving a pan-genotypic protease inhibitor demonstrated promise in the treatment of a rare hepatitis C (HVC) patient population. The results were presented at The International Liver Congress (2016 EASL) April 13-17 in Barcelona, Spain.

Gilead’s triple cocktail — sofosbuvir/velpatasvir and the experimental compound GS-9857 — proved to be 99 percent effective in treating HCV genotypes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 over 12 weeks among 128 patients who had failed NS5As, a variety of direct-acting antivirals or pegylated-interferon plus ribavarin and/or any direct-acting antiviral.

At the event, AbbVie presented similar results for its once-daily combination of ABT-493 and ABT-530 HCV single pill. Cure rates of 97 percent in non-cirrhosis genotype 3 patients and cure rates of 100 percent in participants with cirrhosis were seen over either 8 or 12 weeks of treatment. A full cure rate was seen in non-cirrhotic patients with genotypes 4-6. The combination drug uses different methods to block the HCV replication.

Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus. About 3.2 million people in the United States have the disease but due to its lack of symptoms, most patients are unaware they are infected. There are six hepatitis C “genotypes” and some subtypes. No particular type is more serious than the other, but they do respond differently to treatment.

There are currently six approved medicines to treat one or more HCV types. The correct choice of drug is imperative, as it can translate into a rapid cure for the patient and avoid wasting considerable amounts of money. The new generation of hepatitis C drugs cost tens of thousands of dollars for a course of treatment.

Although the price of these drugs is still an issue, strong safety profiles and high cure rates are significant advances for a pathogen that previously required a strict and difficult treatment schedule.

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