Treatment for Hepatitis C
The most common hepatitis C treatment is called combination therapy. Although the term "combination therapy" previously meant the combination of peginterferon and ribavirin, the approval of various other hepatitis C drugs makes the definition somewhat obsolete. Many people are now using the term to include any hepatitis C regimen that involves more than one medication.
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 (Sovaldi™) is taken once daily by mouth, with or without food.
The protease inhibitors are used in combination with peginterferon and ribavirin for genotype 1 infections. Sofosbuvir is approved for use with ribavirin for genotypes 2 and 3 or with peginterferon and ribavirin for genotypes 1 and 4.
Studies have shown that when taking peginterferon plus ribavirin, between 40 percent and 80 percent of people have a sustained virological response (SVR) to this treatment for hepatitis C. A sustained response means that no hepatitis C virus RNA can be detected in the person's blood six months after finishing the treatment. Adding a protease inhibitor or sofosbuvir can boost the success rate.
A few different factors can affect the success of treating hepatitis C. These factors include:
- The genotype of the hepatitis C virus (i.e., the specific arrangement of genetic material)
- The amount of virus present in the body
- How long the person has had the hepatitis C virus (HCV)
- The amount of damage already done to the liver.
(Click Hepatitis C Treatment for more information about the options available for hepatitis C and suggestions for staying healthy during and after treatment.)