A new, shorter drug regimen to treat certain types of hepatitis C was found to be as effective as the current, longer course of treatment, according to the results of a large multi-center trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
A shorter treatment duration may reduce the number of patients who stop taking the drug before treatment ends, according to the study co-authored by Dr. Steven Flamm, professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology.
“This is important because shorter treatment regimens offer an increased chance of compliance as well as less cost,” Dr. Flamm said.
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is the most common blood-borne infection in the United States; HCV genotypes 1 and 3 are together responsible for about 85 percent of infections. Antiviral treatments are now the standard of care and for most patients the treatment duration is 12 weeks long.
One regimen offers an eight-week time course for some patients, but the shorter duration is restricted to HCV genotype 1 patients who are non-cirrhotic, have not been previously treated and have a low baseline viral load.
Longer treatments involve a higher likelihood of patients discontinuing usage, but a new treatment, a combination of two drugs, glecaprevir and pibrentasvir, was the first therapy approved to treat the vast majority of patients with genotypes 1 or 3 who are non-cirrhotic and have not previously been treated with the shorter eight-week treatment plan.