News Brief
aPRIL 18, 2014

New Treatments Tame Hepatitis C Virus, Lessen Side Effects Seen with Other Therapies

PHILADELPHIA — Three million Americans suffer from Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection, with baby boomers representing a large proportion of those infected.

Penn Medicine is part of nationwide team of researchers whose recent findings shows promise in curing between 94 and 99 percent of cases of previously untreated and those who failed prior HCV treatment. The findings were both presented at the European Association for the Study of the Liver and published simultaneously online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The simple oral regimen, a 12-week course of antiviral drugs ledipasvir and sofosbuvir have shown success in treating patients with HCV genotype 1, a form of the virus found in up to 75 percent of infections.

The results were equally as astounding in both patients who had previously failed available HCV treatment and those who had never been treated for HCV. Previous HCV medications came with a variety of significant side effects, including influenza-like symptoms, depression and anemia, making many patients ineligible for these interferon-based treatments. Study results showed that the new treatment regimen all but eliminates these side effects.

Penn researchers, led by K. Rajender Reddy, MD, professor of Medicine and medical director of Hepatology/Transplantation Hepatology, were the regional leaders in this and earlier research that showed great success and similar results with a longer treatment time of 12 to 24 weeks, as opposed to 8 to 12 weeks.

HCV can lead to chronic hepatitis which can become cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. Hepatitis C is the most common cause for liver transplantation in the US.

“The new drug regimen represents an extraordinary medical advancement and a new option for patients who have suffered for many years in trying to control their disease,” says Reddy. “A cure is now a reality.”

For additional details, see the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center press release.

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Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 17 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $392 million awarded in the 2013 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania -- recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; Chester County Hospital; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2013, Penn Medicine provided $814 million to benefit our community.

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