The treatment options for hepatitis C have become more cost effective, which bodes well for the 170 million people worldwide with this disease.
The cost of treating Hepatitis C virus (HCV) could be reduced by half if doctors are trained to predict when a patient can safely stop taking the expensive but effective direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medication, suggests new research. An estimated 170 million people have the blood-borne infection worldwide, which is a major cause of chronic liver disease. The recent approval of DAAs has led to a revolution in the treatment of HCV, but the high cost of DAAs limits access to treatment, the researchers pointed out. ‘Recent clinical trials of DAAs against HCV suggest that cure of the infection often took place before the end of treatment,’ said one of the researchers Harel Dahari, assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in the US.
‘Treatment currently is standardised to be given for a set period of time, not tailored to the patient,’ Scott Cotler, a professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, noted. ‘In many cases, this may result in the prolonged use of expensive drugs with essentially no additional positive effect,’ Cotler explained. Using more frequent blood testing to determine HCV levels, the researchers were able to identify when a cure was reached and predict when therapy could be discontinued. There are no vaccines to prevent Hepatitis C yet but it can be managed efficiently if diagnosed early.