Analysts believe that 2014 will be a tremendous year for advancements in Hepatitis C therapy. Excitement is growing as we inch closer to approval for an improved, highly effective, safer drug combination that experts say could cure many people of Hepatitis C.
For the most common strain in the U.S., Hepatitis C genotype 1, the current standard therapy generally combines three drugs:
- pegylated interferon
- a direct acting antiviral (DAA)
Direct acting antivirals are medications that attack the ability of the Hepatitis C virus to replicate. Different DAA’s interfere with the Hepatitis C replication cycle at different stages. Telaprevir (Incevik) and boceprevir (Victrelis) are protease inhibitors – one type of DAA. Although adding one of these protease inhibitors to interferon and ribavirin treatment boosts treatment success from 50 percent up to 75 percent effectiveness, they are both associated with some extremely distressing side effects including anemia, rash, anal itching and rectal burning.
The greatest promise for improved treatment regimens lies with an interferon-free Hepatitis C drug protocol. Primarily because interferon is associated with so many severe side effects, the race for an approved, interferon-free, Hepatitis C regimen is heated. Interferon-free regimens are expected to have a higher success rate, be better tolerated and enable treatment of people who cannot take interferon. The most substantial breakthroughs for Hepatitis C treatment seem to revolve around DAA cocktails, with drug resistance posing the biggest challenge. Hence, experts believe a cure lurks in finding just the right mixture of DAA’s without interferon.