"This new treatment represents a paradigm shift in the way that hepatitis C is going to be treated," says Dr. Jacobson. "We are achieving the same or higher cure rates in many patients with sofosbuvir, compared to interferon, and we are doing it in half the time with a drug that has a remarkable safety profile."
Dr. Jacobson estimates that up to half of patients with hepatitis C infection either can't use interferon or don't want to use it. "Sofosbuvir is an extremely promising treatment for this population. It is widely hoped that combinations of potent antiviral drugs will eventually replace the use of interferon, in general, for most hepatitis C patients."
The drug sofosbuvir works by interfering with the ability of the hepatitis C virus to replicate. The drug also confers a high barrier to developing the complication of drug resistance. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved sofosbuvir. However, results of the four clinical trials published in the NEJM were used to support the regulatory filing submitted to the FDA by the drug's developer, Gilead Sciences, Inc.
No Treatment Options for Many Patients
Approximately 170 million people are infected with hepatitis C worldwide and 350,000 people die each year from the disease. According to federal statistics, there are an estimated four million people in the U.S. infected with hepatitis C. As there are often no symptoms, most people with hepatitis C are unaware that they are infected.
When left untreated, hepatitis C virus can cause progressive liver disease such as cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. The virus is spread by contact with infected blood, such as through blood transfusions, injection drug use or sexual contact.
There are seven maj
|Contact: Lauren Woods|
Weill Cornell Medical College