Hepatitis C Treatment
Hepatitis C treatment usually includes the drugs peginterferon and ribavirin. Depending on the genotype, a third drug may be added to the regimen. Peginterferon is given by injection once a week, and ribavirin is a pill taken twice daily. Treatment for hepatitis C is successful in about 50 percent of people with genotype 1 and in about 75 to 80 percent of people with genotype 2.
An Overview of Hepatitis C TreatmentChronic hepatitis C is a condition that can lead to more and more liver damage over time. However, everyone's situation is a little different. So, before hepatitis C treatment is recommended, your healthcare provider will review the results of your blood work and other tests to determine several things, including:
- The amount of virus in your body (see Hepatitis C Viral Load)
- Its genotype (see Hepatitis C Genotypes)
- How much liver damage has already occurred
- Any other medical conditions you may have.
Then together, you and your healthcare provider can decide what hepatitis C treatment, if any, is best for you.
Current Treatments for Hepatitis C
Previously, hepatitis C treatment usually included a couple of drugs called peginterferon and ribavirin. More recently, the hepatitis C protease inhibitors for genotype 1 became available to be used in combination with peginterferon and ribavirin. The newest hepatitis drug is sofosbuvir (Sovaldi™), which is used in combination with ribavirin for genotypes 2 and 3 or with ribavirin and peginterferon for genotypes 1 and 4.
Peginterferon (Pegasys® or Peg-Intron®) is given by injection once a week. Ribavirin (Copegus®, Rebetol®) is a pill taken twice daily. Hepatitis C protease inhibitors include boceprevir (Victrelis®), telaprevir (Incivek®), and simeprevir (Olysio™), all of which are taken by mouth with food. Sofosbuvir is taken once daily by mouth, with or without food.
The goal of these hepatitis C treatment medications is to get rid of the hepatitis C virus completely. This is also called "clearing the virus." By clearing the virus, you may be able to bring down the swelling of the liver, stop the scarring and fibrosis, and possibly reverse some of the liver damage. It may also bring down the long-term risk of liver cancer.