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Experimental Drug for Hepatitis C Promising, Studies Show
Date:4/23/2013

orth Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., voiced enthusiasm for the new treatment. "I think this is a tremendous advance in our treatment for hepatitis C," said Bernstein.

Standard treatment with interferon can last for 48 weeks, he said.

Sofosbuvir is now in the final phase of U.S. Food and Drug Administration trials. Bernstein said that, if approved, it should become the standard of care.

The results were published online April 23 in the New England Journal of Medicine. They are also scheduled for presentation Friday at a meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

In another study, researchers evaluated previously untreated patients with hepatitis C, either the subtype known as genotype 2 or the harder-to-treat genotype 3.

Patients were randomly assigned to receive either sofosbuvir and ribavirin for 12 weeks or ribavirin and interferon for 24 weeks. The cure rates were similar for both therapies: 67 percent.

The trials were funded by Gilead Sciences, maker of sofosbuvir. The company wouldn't comment on sofosbuvir's potential cost prior to its approval. Jacobson consults and lectures on behalf of Gilead Sciences.

Given sofosbuvir's proven benefit, these therapies can have a significant health-care impact that should save lives, said study co-author Dr. David Nelson.

"Potent direct-acting antiviral agents will allow high cure rates without the need for interferon, which should expand treatment options to the majority of hepatitis C-infected patients," said Nelson, a professor of medicine and associate dean of clinical research at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

"With these well-tolerated treatment regimens and high cures rates, the focus now needs to shift to finding the millions of undiagnosed hepatitis C patients and assuring access to care," Nelson said.

Some 170 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C, an
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