MAYWOOD, IL – Hepatitis C medications cure more than 90 percent of patients but can cost more than $ 50,000 per patient.
The results of the new study could significantly reduce costs. Preliminary data from a study by a theoretical modeling researcher at the Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and Loyola Medicine, Loyola, found that a standard 12-week treatment regimen for 50% of patients could be shortened to six weeks without compromising effectiveness.
"There is potential to save up to 20 percent of the cost of hepatitis C drugs," said Dr. Harel Dahari, MD, co-author of the study, along with Dr. Ohad Etzion, MD at the Medical Center of MD Sorokas University. Senior author is Amir Shlomai, MD, PhD, from Beilinson Hospital in Israel.
The study was presented on November 12 at the Annual Meeting of the San Francisco American Association of Liver Diseases Research.
Dr. Dahari is Co-Chairman of the Experimental and Theoretical Modeling Program (PETM) at the Loyola Medicine Hepatology Department and at the Chicago School of Medicine at the University of Loyola. Two other authors of Loyola are Susan Uprichard, MD, a collaborator of PETM and an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and Dr. Scott Cotler, MD, Head of Medical Hepatology at Loyola and Chicago Stritch Medical School, Professor of Medicine at the University of Loyola.
Hepatitis C is an infection caused by the spread of the virus with a contaminated axis. It can cause liver damage, liver failure and liver cancer. About 70 million people in the world, including around three million in the United States, are chronically infected with hepatitis C.
An oral class of medicines known as direct exposure to viruses (DAAs) has radically changed the treatment of hepatitis C. More than 90% of the patients medicines destroy the virus and cure the patient with minimal side effects. But high costs restrict access and there is a significant financial burden on Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers.
"Treatment is currently standardized and should be provided over a period of time, usually 12 weeks, rather than adapted to an individual patient," said Dr. Cotlers.
In the new study, the researchers used the personalized drug method known as model-based response-led therapy to minimize treatment times. After the patients were exposed to treatment for a few weeks, researchers measured how much hepatitis C virus levels were reduced. They used mathematical modeling to determine how long it would take to completely eliminate the virus.
The study included 22 patients so far. Mathematical modeling foresaw that one patient (five percent of the total patient) in eight weeks of eight (36%) and six weeks in two patients (nine percent) treatment can be shortened to 10 weeks. The remaining 11 patients (50 percent) had to be treated after standard 12 weeks.
Twenty-one patients remained viral-free. For a single relapse, the patient had the most difficult to treat hepatitis C virus, known as Genotype 3.
A pilot study of evidence-based evidence has shown that the use of reactive therapy to reduce treatment times is possible. In order to confirm the results, a large multicentre trial is under way in Israel.
Dr Dahari said that, in addition to cutting costs, shorter treatment regimens would facilitate the treatment of hepatitis C patients with limited health insurance costs.
The study was conducted by David Yarden, MD, Anat Nevo-Shor, MD, Daniela Munteanu, MD and Naim Abufreh, MD, Soroka University Medical Center, Behavioral, Center for Gastroenterology and Liver Disease, Beesheba, Israel; Assaf Issachar, MD, Michal Cohen-Naftaly, MD, Orly Sneh Arbib, MD and Marius Braun, MD, from the Liver Institute, Rabin Medical Center, Beilinson Hospital, Petah Tikva, Israel; and Dr. Orna Mora, the Israeli Medical Center of the Central Virology Laboratory of the Ministry of Health, Sheba Medical Center.
The study is named "Reactive therapy with DAA reduces the duration of treatment in 50% of HCV-treated patients".
The study was partially supported by Clalit, a healthcare organization in Israel, and the US National Institutes of Health.
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