New hepatitis C treatment highly effective

Roger Warmuth loves spending time with his dogs Stella and Teak.

"They help me get through the tough times," Roger elaborates.

Roger has definitely had some tough times to get through. He was diagnosed with hepatitis C, a virus that attacks the liver, 17 years ago.

"It's given me cirrhosis and symptoms, as well as muscle aches, bone aches,” states Roger

Roger tried Interferon Therapy, an intense treatment that causes severe side effects, and only works in less than half of patients.

"After going through all of the painful process of treatment, the odds are basically against them that they would not respond,” says Nizar Zein, Chief of Hepatology and Medical Director of liver transplantation at the Cleveland Clinic.

Now there are new therapies that literally wipe out the infection. A class of drugs that has become known as D.A.A, targets the virus directly, not the immune system.

"You are going from a very toxic, highly ineffective therapy to, to a highly tolerated, almost universally effective treatment,” states Dr. Zein.

This therapy involves oral drugs that are taken for three or six months; in clinical trials as many as 90 percent of patients were cured of their virus after this form of therapy.

Patients can also administer the drug without injections, meaning they can avoid many nasty side effects.

The most recently approved drug in this class is Sofosbuvir, which was approved in early December.

There is a downside however, the drugs are very expensive. Some quotes estimate in the $84,000 range for a 12-week treatment.

Researchers and drug companies are working to lower the cost for patients, and some insurance companies have already started approving this type of treatment.

Roger will start the new drug therapy in the next month. He's hoping it will wipe out his infection for good so he can focus on enjoying all the "warm" moments with his pups.


REPORT: MB# 3751

BACKGROUND: 3.2 million Americans have hepatitis C. It's an inflammation of the liver that spreads through contact with infected blood; 25 percent of chronically infected patients can develop cirrhosis and related complications. It can also spread through sex with an infected person and from mother to baby during childbirth. Most people do not have symptoms for years. Symptoms could feel like the flu. Jaundice, dark-colored urine, and pale bowel movements are also symptoms of hepatitis c. Medicines sometimes help, but side effects can be problematic. (Source:

CAUSES: Hepatitis c is caused by the hepatitis c virus. Liver damage from alcohol, poisonous mushrooms, or other poisons can cause hepatitis. An overdose of acetaminophen can also cause the illness. Exposure may occur after a needle stick or if someone who has hepatitis contacts a cut on the skin or contacts the eyes or mouth. Those at risk include street drug users, people on long term kidney dialysis, and those who have regular contact with blood at work, such as a health care worker. (Source:

NEW TECHNOLOGY: A class of drugs known as DAA, or direct-acting antiviral agents, can now target the hepatitis c virus . The oral drugs are taken for three month and in clinical trials 90 percent of patients were cured of their virus. The first drug approved is called Sofosbuvir, which gained FDA approval in December 2013. It works by blocking the RNA used by the virus to replicate itself. The drug costs about $84,000 for 12 weeks of treatment, and is covered by some health insurances. This is the first drug that is safe and effective without the need for administration of interferons according to the FDA. The most common side effects are fatigue, headache, nausea, insomnia, and anemia. (Source:, Dr. Nizar Zein)


Andrea Pacetti
Cleveland Clinic

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