Fred Schaich of IFARA spoke with Douglas Dieterich, M.D., who specializes in liver disease at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, N.Y., about the new generation of medications against hepatitis C (HCV). These direct-acting antiviral agents (DAAs) cure HCV in a relatively short time and avoid the side effects associated with older interferon-based treatments. Both Gilead's sofosbuvir/ledipasvir (Harvoni) and AbbVie's ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir pill plus dasabuvir (Viekira Pak) have been used very successfully at Mount Sinai since late last year.
Another HCV drug, daclatasvir, is expected to be approved by August 15. It will be especially helpful for those who suffer from genotype 3 of the virus and will be given in combination with sofosbuvir, either with or without ribavirin (RBV).
Patients co-infected with HIV and HCV need slightly longer than those infected with only hepatitis C to clear the HCV virus, but "other than that, [coinfected patients] are not a special population anymore," Dieterich explained.
He said that per-patient health care costs for those with HCV drop by 300% as soon as they are cured of that virus. Treating hepatitis C is therefore "unbelievably cost effective" and using these expensive medications becomes a "no-brainer from an economics perspective," according to Dieterich. Medicare and the Veterans Administration see a four- to five-year return on investment on DAAs, but commercial insurers often have a "shorter time horizon" and therefore don't necessarily cover the medications, he stated.
The video above has been posted on TheBodyPRO.com with permission from our partners at the International Foundation for Alternative Research in AIDS (IFARA). Visit IFARA's website or YouTube channel to watch more video interviews from the conference, as well as earlier meetings.