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New Pills Show Promise for Hepatitis C
Date:1/3/2013

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Two new pills on the horizon for people with hepatitis C promise shorter treatment time and fewer side effects than today's standard treatment, interferon.

The first treatment studied combines a drug currently called ABT-450/r and one called ABT-333. Together, these drugs achieved up to a 95 percent sustained response, meaning the drugs suppressed levels of hepatitis C in the blood over time.

The second drug, called sofosbuvir, when combined with the currently used medication ribavirin, induced a 100 percent sustained response rate, the researchers found.

Both drugs require just 12 weeks of treatment compared to today's standard of 48 weeks, according to the authors.

"Over the next few years, we're going to have several new options to eradicate the hepatitis C virus," said the lead author of the ABT-450/r study, Dr. Fred Poordad, a professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

"We're hopeful that in the next 10 years, we should be able to eradicate hepatitis C in most Americans," said Poordad.

Both studies appear in the Jan. 3 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The ABT-450/r study was funded by the drug maker, Abbott Pharmaceuticals, and the sofosbuvir study was funded by drug makers Pharmasset and Gilead Sciences.

More than 3 million Americans have hepatitis C, a contagious liver disease usually spread through contact with the blood of someone already infected, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The infection can be either acute or chronic. Chronic hepatitis C can scar the liver and eventually lead to liver failure. Poordad said it's one of the most common reasons for a liver transplant.

The current treatment combines two medications: interferon and ribavirin. Interferon is only available by injection, and must b
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