Despite recent contrary reports, hepatitis C medications are effective.
We are clinicians and scientists who have studied and treated patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection over many years and patient groups that represent those affected by hepatitis C. We write in response to your article on the effectiveness of antiviral therapy (Hepatitis ‘wonder drug’ may be clinically ineffective, say experts, 9 June). The Cochrane review that you highlight analysed clinical trials, which are by nature short term, where the sole purpose was to evaluate the virological efficacy of new antiviral drugs. The trials were neither designed, nor powered, to assess mortality, so it is hardly surprising that the Cochrane review was unable to identify any impact on mortality.
Regulatory authorities and clinicians all recognise that clearing hepatitis C virus reduces mortality. Indeed, UK-based research demonstrates that oral antiviral treatment for patients with hepatitis C who also have cirrhosis substantially decreases mortality and morbidity (Cheung et al Journal of Hepatology 2016).
Current data from Public Health England reveal that there has already been an 11% reduction in mortality following the introduction of antiviral therapy, as well as a 50% reduction in a need for liver transplantation for chronic hepatitis C infection, with the added benefit that more donor organs will now be available for patients without viral hepatitis.
These data are supported by similar analyses worldwide. The Cochrane analysis is fundamentally flawed, does not reflect international experience of the benefits of antiviral therapy, and has the potential to deter patients with hepatitis C from seeking life-saving antiviral therapy.
Read full article: Hepatitis C antiviral drugs are effective | Letters | Society | The Guardian