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Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
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Advances in health and medicine.
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General Health Channel
Reported March 19, 2014

Wiping Out Hepatitis C

CLEVELAND, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) – 3.2 million Americans are living with hepatitis c.  It was once considered a death sentence – but now, new therapies are offering a cure for many.

Roger Warmuth loves spending time with his dogs – Stella and Teak.

“They help me get through the tough times,” Warmuth told Ivanhoe.

He’s had some tough times to get through; 17 years ago he was diagnosed with hepatitis c – a virus that attacks the liver.

“It’s given me cirrhosis. My symptoms include muscle aches and bone aches,” Warmuth said.

Roger tried interferon therapy – it’s an intense treatment that causes severe side effects and only works in less than half of patients.

“After going through all of this painful process of treatment, the odds were basically against them that they would not respond,” Nizar Zein, MD, Chief of Hepatology and Medical Director of Liver Transplantation, Cleveland Clinic, told Ivanhoe.

Now, there are new therapies that literally wipe out the infection. A class of drugs known as DAA targets the virus itself – not the immune system. They are oral drugs – and are taken for three or six months. In clinical trials, as many as 90 percent of patients were cured of their virus.

“Going from a very toxic, highly ineffective therapy, to a highly tolerated, almost universally effective treatment,” Dr. Zein said.

Warmuth will start the new drug in the next month. He’s hoping it will wipe out his infection for good – so he can focus on enjoying all the “warm” moments with his pups.

The most recently approved drug in this class – sofosbuvir– was approved in December of 2013.

One downside: it’s very expensive – some quotes have put it at 84-thousand dollars for 12 weeks of treatment! Researchers and drug companies are working on ways to lower the price for patients. It can be used without interferon injections avoiding many side effects. The treatment is approved by some insurance nationwide. MORE.

More Information

Click here for additional research on Wiping Out Hepatitis C

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview Dr. Nizar Zein

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas, mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

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