The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 3.2 million Americans are infected with hepatitis C – many don’t even know they have the chronic condition that damages the liver.
Recently new medications have been approved to treat patients with hepatitis C in the U.S. that are expected to greatly improve treatment of the viral infection.
Jefferson hepatologist Jonathan M. Fenkel, MD, director of the Jefferson Hepatitis C Center, recently answered some questions about the condition and two new medications for it – Sovaldi and Olysio – for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Dr. Fenkel of Jefferson’s Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology explained that both medications “interfere with the hepatitis C virus’ ability to replicate or grow in the body.”
And he said that the medications should dramatically improve cure rates compared with earlier treatment regimens. Moreover, he added there are more new treatment options arriving soon.
“More than 20 drugs for hepatitis C may apply for FDA approval in the next five years, and even more are in the pipeline,” said Dr. Fenkel. “I predict that in five years, treatment will be combined in one daily pill, taken for 12 weeks or less, with a cure rate of more than 95 percent.”
That’s a good thing as new screening recommendations are likely to identify people with hepatitis C who need treatment.