Effective drugs: hepatitis C could be eliminated
According to the German Liver Aid, around 400 million people worldwide live with hepatitis B or C. 1.4 million people die each year from the consequences of liver inflammation. Even though hepatitis C could almost always be cured. According to experts, the infection could even be eliminated.
Many don't know about their liver inflammation
In Germany alone, around half a million people have hepatitis caused by viruses. Only a third of those affected suffer from typical jaundice with progressive liver inflammation. One third noticed flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, nausea, loss of appetite, headache or fatigue and another third had no symptoms at all; they often do not know about their liver inflammation. Chronic viral hepatitis can also lead to long-term consequences such as cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer and can thus be fatal. It would therefore be advisable to have yourself checked for dangerous viruses.
It would be possible to eliminate the infection
In neighboring Austria as well, around 120,000 people are affected by chronic hepatitis B or C. As reported in a news release from the APA news agency, hepatitis C offers drug therapies with healing rates of up to 100 percent. Accordingly, even the elimination of the infection would be possible. "That would be an ambitious goal," Harald Hofer, a Viennese hepatologist, told the agency. Especially with hepatitis C, the situation has changed drastically. “The new therapies have been available for two and a half years. The treatment options have changed radically and fundamentally, ”explained Hofer on the occasion of the upcoming World Hepatitis Day on July 28th.
Two different active ingredients combined
The new drugs that need to be taken in tablet form during the treatment period are said to be highly effective. According to the APA, these are active substances that intervene directly in the reproductive cycle of the hepatitis C pathogen: they inhibit the HCV polymerase, the HCV protease or the replication complex (NS5A) of the virus. As it is said, two of the different active ingredients or mechanisms of action are usually combined in therapy, since the high replication rate of the pathogens would otherwise also lead to a high risk of developing resistance.
Enormously high cure rates
“The cure rates for a hepatitis C virus infection with virus genotype 1, which accounts for two thirds of the diseases in Austria, are between 95 and 100 percent. There are similar high success rates for hepatitis C due to genotypes 2 and 4. Treatment is - currently - more difficult with chronic infection with virus genotype 3, ”said Hofer, head of the hepatitis outpatient clinic at the University Clinic for Internal Medicine III at the MedUni Vienna . According to the information, it is said to be continued success if three months after the three-month therapy no pathogens can be detected in the blood.
Success as good as in clinical studies
The new forms of treatment are said to have been applied relatively quickly in Austria. However, the initial setting must be done in a center, primarily for cost reasons. An essential prerequisite for this is the presence of chronic hepatitis C and documented scarring of the liver (fibrosis), whereby the status is divided into four stages. Initially, treatment was only possible for patients in stages III and IV (fibrosis stage IV corresponds to cirrhosis of the liver), particularly for cost reasons. “In the meantime, around 2,500 to 3,000 patients have been treated in Austria. We have seen that the successes are about as good as in the clinical studies. Some of these were also patients with very advanced illnesses with cirrhosis or after liver transplants, ”says Hofer. (ad)