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16475Top Hepatitis C Treatments Equally Effective Landmark assessment also finds trea

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  • scarletpaolicchi
    Jul 26, 2009
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      Top Hepatitis C Treatments Equally Effective
      Landmark assessment also finds treating early helps prevent liver failure
      Posted July 22, 2009

      WEDNESDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- A landmark hepatitis C virus study shows
      that the top two treatment options are equally effective and safe.

      The long-awaited study, thought to be the largest of its kind, is important for
      the 180 million people worldwide -- 4 million in the United States -- who are
      infected with hepatitis C virus and at risk for liver scarring, organ failure
      and death.

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      Hepatitis C is America's leading cause of liver failure, liver cancer and liver
      transplantation. The disease is transmitted by contact with blood through sexual
      activities, drug use or personal care items.

      The study of 3,070 adults at Johns Hopkins and 118 other U.S. medical centers
      showed that treating patients with either of the two standard antiviral
      therapies is safe and helps prevent liver damage.

      The report appears online July 22 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

      The drug therapies -- peginterferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin, or peginterferon
      alfa-2a plus ribavirin -- worked in 39.8 percent and 40.9 percent of patients,
      respectively. Commonly observed side effects included anemia, fatigue, headache,
      nausea, insomnia and depression.

      The equality of the only two U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved
      drug-treatment regimens for suppressing the virus surprised the researchers,
      according to a news release from Johns Hopkins.

      "When considering treatments for hepatitis C infection, patients and their
      doctors now have solid evidence that they can weigh both antiviral therapies
      equally for effectiveness, safety and tolerability," Dr. Mark Sulkowski, medical
      director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Viral Hepatitis and the study's
      co-principal investigator, said in the news release.

      While 10 percent to 13 percent of the study's participants quit the treatment
      because of side effects, Sulkowski said that was "within expectations for this
      type of therapy."

      The researchers also found that the sooner patients get into treatment, the

      "Treatment success is highly dependent on starting before liver cirrhosis has
      already set in, which can take from a year to decades," Sulkowski noted in the
      news release.

      Evidence from the study also will help doctors learn more quickly whether the
      patient is responding to the drug therapy. This will allow patients to avoid
      side effects and the expense of taking unnecessary drugs.

      The study was funded by the Schering-Plough Corp., the maker and provider of the
      study drugs ribavirin and peginterferon alfa-b.

      Article found at

      More information at

      Educate yourself in your fight against hepatitis.