Compliance to HCV Combination Therapy: Doing Your Part
The majority of people infected with the hepatitis C virus are treated with combination therapy, which consists of peginterferon injections and ribavirin pills, and perhaps a third medication. As this is a long-term treatment program (lasting in some cases up to 48 weeks), being consistent in taking the medications is a critical part of how well the drugs may work. This consistency is known as "compliance," or being compliant to the treatment plan.
What Is Compliance to Therapy?
Healthcare providers sometimes use the words "compliance" or "adherence" to mean that a person is taking his or her medication exactly how the nurse, doctor, or pharmacist explained it. People with good compliance stick to their hepatitis C treatment plan by taking their medications as prescribed.
This means taking your ribavirin pills twice a day. If you're on peginterferon, it means getting your injection every week. If you're on Victrelis®, this means three doses a day. For Incivek®, you'll be taking doses twice a day. If you're taking sofosbuvir (Sovaldi™) or simeprevir (Olysio™), life is a bit easier, since these drugs are taken just once a day.
The medications in combination therapy work together to help the immune system destroy the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Because of this, it is important for patients to have good adherence by taking their medications correctly. This ensures that enough of each drug in the person's body at all times.
If doses of medication are skipped, this gives the hepatitis C virus a chance to keep multiplying. Therefore, it is important that your drugs are taken on time and exactly as prescribed.
It is also important not to take too much of the medications. Just because a certain dose of medicine is effective does not mean that taking more will be better. In fact, taking too much medication can make a person very sick, and can be harmful to important parts of the body, such as the heart, blood, and even the liver.
The best way to help the immune system destroy the HCV is to take the medications at the right time and in the right amount -- not too early and not too late, not too little and not too much. When taken as directed, the drugs can work both day and night to help the immune system destroy the hepatitis C virus.