Hepatitis C Medication
Interferon Versus PeginterferonAlpha interferon is a substance that is made naturally in your liver and other parts of your body. It is a protein that helps your immune system work better to fight off infections, such as hepatitis.
The interferon drug that is often prescribed for hepatitis C is a synthetic version of alpha interferon. This means that it is made in a laboratory, but looks the same and does the same things as the natural protein.
There are both older and newer versions of synthetic alpha interferon. The older version is injected under the skin -- usually three times a week. The newer version, called "pegylated interferon," or "peginterferon," stays in your body longer than the older version, so you only have to inject it once a week. Studies have shown that this medication for hepatitis C is more effective than the older version.
RibavirinRibavirin is a pill that you take in the morning and in the evening every day for as long as you are on combination therapy. It may actually help strengthen your immune system, which is your body's natural defense against infection. With a stronger immune system, your body can be more effective in getting rid of the hepatitis C virus.
Since ribavirin does not treat hepatitis C by itself, it must be used with alpha interferon, peginterferon, or sofosbuvir. Together, these hepatitis C medications can slow down the rate at which the virus multiplies.
Hepatitis C Protease Inhibitors
Approved hepatitis C protease inhibitors include boceprevir (Victrelis), telaprevir (Incivek), and simeprevir (Olysio). Currently, they are approved for combination use with peginterferon and ribavirin for the treatment of genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C. Victrelis is taken once a day, Incivek is taken twice a day, and Olysio is taken once a day.
These drugs should not be used alone, but only in combination with peginterferon and ribavirin. They tend to have many drug interactions, so make sure your healthcare provider carefully checks your medication list for potential problems.