Transformative Technology to Treat Hepatitis C

New Medicines Dramatically Advance Treatment of Hepatitis C

12.05.13 | By

If you follow PhRMA and especially the Catalyst, you’ll notice we spend a lot of time focusing on how innovative medicines can be a great, transformative technology. A great example includes this morning’s NPR Morning Edition, reporting on new medicines to treat Hepatitis C, soon to be approved by the FDA. 

A few things stand out: first is the extent of the potential problem.  According to the report, five times as many people have Hepatitis C as the AIDS virus -- around 3 million people in the U.S. today. 

The limitations of current treatment options was also notable.  Patients diagnosed with the condition can expect years of treatment with sometimes debilitating side effects, and no promise of a cure.

The dramatic promise of new medicines – several of which are currently being considered for approval by the FDA – was eye-catching as well. Dr. Eric Lawitz of the Texas Liver Institute (which conducts clinical trials on new Hepatitis medicines) was astonished by the potential improvement in treatment.  He told NPR of a 12 week course of treatment, minimal side effects and a “90% cure rate.”

Finally, and most importantly, it is striking what this potential advance can do for patients.  Henry Alameda, featured in the report, suffered with Hepatitis C for around 20 years.  Starting 8 years ago, he was treated with available medicines and experienced numerous side effects without getting rid of the virus.  Alameda participated in recent clinical trials of the new crop of Hepatitis medicines now being considered for approval by the FDA.  Fifteen month after treatment, he is thrilled that today there is no trace of virus in his body.   

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