Mayo Clinic (mayoclinic.org
December 19, 2014
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Many people with hepatitis C choose to delay or decline treatment because it's inconvenient, it lasts for months, and it often fails to work. Others start treatment but have to stop because of side effects.
Still others, who already have liver damage from the infection, may forgo treatment because specialists with experience treating those with chronic hepatitis C are in short supply.
A new, single-pill combination of two antiviral agents, ledipasvir and sofosbuvir (Harvoni), at a dose of one pill a day, could be the answer for all these groups.
The combination pill recently received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for treating people with hepatitis C genotype 1, which is the most common genotype of the virus in North America and Western Europe. Although sofosbuvir already had FDA approval, ledipasvir did not - it's available only as a component of Harvoni.
For people who've had no prior hepatitis C treatment, the recommend length of Harvoni therapy is 12 weeks. The 12-week recommendation also applies to previously untreated people with cirrhosis, as long as they still have a functioning liver. For people with cirrhosis who have previously been treated, treatment should last 24 weeks.
The new drug doesn't offer any price breaks, though. A 12-week course of treatment costs about $95,000.
Another combination treatment, containing four antiviral drugs, is likely to get regulatory approval in Europe and FDA approval within the next year.