Hepatitis C Medication
Approved in December 2013, sofosbuvir is used to treat genotypes 1, 2, 3, and 4. It has to be used in combination with peginterferon and ribavirin for genotypes 1 or 4, but the length of treatment is quite a bit shorter than previous regimens (only 12 weeks). For genotype 2 or 3, it is combined with ribavirin (meaning an entirely oral therapy, with no peginterferon injections) for 12 weeks (genotype 2) or 24 weeks (genotype 3).
These treatment regimens are very effective, compared to other regimens. Sofosbuvir is taken just once a day and has relatively minor side effects in comparison to some of the other treatments.
When Do These Medications for Hepatitis C Take Effect?Within hours of taking them, hepatitis C medications can start to make the amount of viruses in your blood go down.
The problem is that the hepatitis C virus can make trillions of copies of itself every day. So although medicines for hepatitis C may be helping your body destroy a lot of the viruses right away, it can take some time to really see a difference. That is why it is so important to follow your treatment program exactly how your healthcare provider explains it.
Within a few months of beginning combination therapy, your healthcare provider will be able to tell whether the treatment is working for you. This is done by testing your blood for hepatitis C virus RNA (see Hepatitis C Viral Load). You may remember that this same test was used earlier to tell whether you had the virus in your body and how much of it was there.
This test is generally done about three to six months after beginning combination therapy. If the hepatitis C treatment is working, no RNA will be detected during the test given at six months. But if it is not working, viral RNA will still be found in your blood.
Your healthcare provider will let you know whether your levels of virus RNA have gone down enough. It is important to know that even if no viral RNA is found in your blood, you may still need to finish the treatment program. If you stop the medicine early, before the end of your treatment, it is possible that the hepatitis C virus will return.
In some people, treatment destroys nearly all of the virus during treatment, but once the therapy stops, the virus begins to spread again. If this happens, your healthcare provider will discuss your treatment options with you.