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Shorter treatment with hepatitis C drug combination may be more beneficial, study shows
Date:9/14/2011

CINCINNATIUniversity of Cincinnati research published in the Sept. 14, 2011, advance online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine shows that patients with hepatitis C who took a combination medicationa telaprevir-based regimen that is commonly used to treat the illnessfor 24 weeks were cured.

Usually, the treatment is administered for 48 weeks, and these results show that extended treatment is unnecessary, possibly changing the standard of care for hepatitis C patients. Researchers say this could mean better medication adherence as well as the decrease in side effects associated with longer medication use.

"Chronic infection with hepatitis C represents a serious health issue for nearly 200 million people worldwide," says Kenneth Sherman, MD, PhD, a UC Health digestive diseases expert, professor and chair of the division of digestive diseases at the UC College of Medicine and principal investigator of the study. "For many years, standard treatment of the type of hepatitis C most common in the United States required 48 weeks of treatment with two drugs: pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Sustained virologic response (cure) occurred in 40 to 50 percent of patients.

"In this clinical trial, we wanted to determine whether there was a group of patients that could be treated for a shorter period without sacrificing the response rate."

Hepatitis C is a viral disease that leads to inflammation of the liver. It can be spread through exchange of bodily fluids with an infected person.

In the study, 540 patients with hepatitis C who had not previously received treatment were enrolled. Seventy-two percent of all patients who entered the study had sustained viral response.

"The high viral cure rates showed that there was no benefit to extending the therapy to 48 weeks for the majority of people in this trial," Sherman says. "Importantly, patients in this trial had a high likelihood of achieving a cure with
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Contact: Katie Pence
katie.pence@uc.edu
513-558-4553
University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Source:Eurekalert

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