Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer and liver disease. Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that is transmitted via contaminated blood. A common way it is spread, for instance, is sharing drug paraphernalia such as needles, but it can also be passed on during sexual intercourse.
Hepatitis C is now curable, but this has not always been the case. For the longest time, the treatment of the hepatitis C infection involved daily oral medicines and painful injections. These medications didn’t destroy the virus directly; they boosted the immune system so it would be strong enough to fight off the infection. The efficacy of these treatments was suboptimal as well, only curing up to 50% of those with the infection. On top of that, individuals who kept up with their arduous treatment plan ended up enduring unpleasant side effects akin to those of chemotherapy.
Today, though, taking an oral medication daily for a few weeks is enough to destroy the virus. Many treatment options today also do not involve injections.
How Do Hep C Medications Work
Every hepatitis C infection case is different because the viral infection has different strains or genotypes with genotype 1 being the most prevalent. Not every hep c medication is effective in eliminating all genotypes. Your physician identifies the correct hep c medication depending on the level of liver damage you have.
These new hep c medications are known as direct-acting antivirals in the medical community, targeting the virus responsible for damaging the liver directly. In most cases, these medications eliminate the virus from the blood over the course of 3 months. This process is referred to as sustained virologic response or SVR, and this is what physicians need to see to conclude that you have been cured. Treatment duration varies patient to patient with an estimated range of 8-24 weeks.
Here are the newest hep c medication options your doctor may discuss with you.
This hep c medication eliminated the need for injections in 10% of all individuals infected with genotype 3 of the hepatitis C virus. Daclatasvir or Daklinza is an oral medication taken daily along with . The side effects may include headaches and fatigue. The FDA has also issued a warning that daclatasvir may significantly lower heart rate in some, necessitating the insertion of a pacemaker.
Elbasvir and Grazoprevir
Available under its brand name Zepatier, this medication is taken once daily by those with genotypes 1, 4, and 6. This medication may also be effective in curing hepatitis C in individuals with liver damage, advanced kidney disease, HIV, and other serious conditions. Similar to other antivirals, the medication may cause headaches and fatigue.
Glecaprevir and Pibrentasvir
The FDA approved these meds in the summer of 2017, which are available under the brand name Mavyret. A daily dose of three pills is used in treating all hepatitis C genotypes. Mavyret may cause headaches, nausea, and fatigue.
This hep c medication–also known as –broke ground as the first medication without to treat hepatitis C patients with genotype 1. Soon after its rollout, the FDA also approved the medication for genotypes 4,5 and 6. Side effects may include fatigue and headaches. Some patients also report experiencing stomach aches and insomnia.
This hep c medication (brand name: Technivie) is taken once daily by individuals with genotype 4 of the hepatitis C infection who do not have liver scarring. Taken in conjunction with ribavirin may increase the likelihood of a cure. The side effects of the medication include lethargy, stomach issues, insomnia, and itchiness. It can also lead to serious liver damage in those with late-stage cirrhosis.
Featured Image: TwitterPosted on May 5, 2023