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New Treatment Combo Better Against Hepatitis C
Date:4/29/2009

Adding antiviral telaprevir increases cure rate, studies show,,,,

WEDNESDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- Adding the antiviral drug telaprevir to standard treatment for hepatitis C increases the cure rate, two new studies show.

Current treatment for hepatitis C (HCV) genotype 1, the most common subtype, is a combination of two drugs, pegylated interferon and ribavirin, given over 48 weeks. This treatment cures less than half of patients and has side effects that make it difficult for some patients to complete the treatment, researchers say. Both reports are published in the April 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Hepatitis C is curable," said the lead researcher of the first study Dr. Jean-Michel Pawlotsky, from the Henri Mondor Hospital, University of Paris, in France. "Currently, 40 to 50 percent of patients infected with HCV genotype 1 can be cured by standard of care, but nothing can be offered to the patients who are unable to eradicate infection on treatment."

For the study, Pawlotsky's team randomly assigned 334 patients with HCV to one of four treatment combinations of telaprevir, peginterferon and ribavirin

The results show that, by using a triple combination of telaprevir, pegylated interferon and ribavirin for 12 weeks, followed by 12 weeks of pegylated interferon and ribavirin, a sustained viral eradication can be achieved in 69 percent of cases, whereas only 46 percent of patients receiving standard of care for 48 weeks achieve a cure, Pawlotsky said.

"This is a breakthrough in HCV therapy," Pawlotsky said. "For the very first time, almost 70 percent cure rates are reached."

These findings open the way to an ongoing phase 3 trial, which could lead to the approval of this combination within the next two years, he said. "The triple combination could become the new standard of care," he noted.

In the second study, Dr. John G. McHutchison, a
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