On October 14, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases posted a summary of the results of a new clinical trial showing that an experimental all-oral drug regimen developed by Abbott Laboratories suppressed the hepatitis C virus in most patients. These results helped Abbott decide on a regimen based on three experimental drugs that the company is moving into late-stage clinical trials. Abbott hopes to sell the new hepatitis therapy in 2015. Abbott, Gilead Sciences Inc., and others are accelerating the race to introduce the next generation of drugs to treat hepatitis C -- those that can be taken orally without the injection component of the current standard, a treatment that patients have difficulty tolerating.
The new study tested three experimental Abbott drugs in a midstage clinical trial of 571 individuals with hepatitis C. The trial tested various combinations of these drugs for varying durations up to 24 weeks of treatment in patients, some of whom had undergone prior treatment and others who were new to treatment. The study tracked the virologic response -- SVR12 -- in patients 12 weeks after the end of treatment. Sustained virologic response is roughly equivalent to being virus-free or having nearly undetectable viral levels.
Hepatitis C affects approximately 180 million people world-wide, with more than 4 million in the United States, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
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