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Important Progress Toward Control of Hepatitis B and C
Date:4/24/2008

Positive Tests Results for New Drugs Against Hepatitis C

Improved Screening for Hepatitis C Reflects Physicians' Optimism New Drugs Effective Against Hepatitis B, But Patient Selection Necessary

MILAN, April 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Scientists presenting at today's sessions of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) reported encouraging findings regarding the potential efficacy of treatment strategies using new drugs designed to combat hepatitis B and C.

Notable progress has been made in clarifying the structure of the hepatitis C virus (HCV), leading to the development of new experimental drugs such as protease inhibitors and polymerase inhibitors, drugs that inhibit virus production. Some of these drugs have been extensively tested and some are currently in phase II trials. Phase III trials are planned. Based on results to date, it is clear that these drugs can be highly effective in combination with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Novel anti-viral approaches at the preclinical developmental stage will also be presented.

An important trend in HCV has emerged in the past 5 years across many parts of Europe. In the past, cases of chronic hepatitis C often went undiagnosed because physicians assumed that the HCV regimen involved severe side effects and was destined to fail in most cases. Now, typically, when physicians see patients with even minor alterations of liver function tests, they then test for HCV. This is because they have been convinced that these patients can be successfully treated. Ironically, a new problem arises... According to Dr. Antonio Craxi, Professor of Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine at the University of Palermo, Italy, "Many physicians now have unreasonably optimistic expectations. Fifty percent of patients - generally those with the most severe disease -- will fail to respond to current therapy. They have more fibrosis, more advanced liver disease,
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SOURCE EASL - European Association for the Study of the Liver
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