Adults who have hepatitis C may benefit from INCIVEK. This prescription medicine is specifically designed to treat genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C. It works by blocking certain enzymes that the hepatitis C virus needs to multiply. This drug should not be used alone; it is only approved for use with other hepatitis C medications. There are currently no "off-label," or unapproved, uses for INCIVEK.
INCIVEK™ (telaprevir) is a prescription medication that belongs to a class of drugs known as protease inhibitors. It is approved to treat genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C in adults. INCIVEK should not be used alone. It is only approved for use in combination with peginterferon alfa (Pegasys®, PEG-Intron®) and ribavirin (Copegus®, Rebetol®, RibaPak®, Ribasphere®).
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by an infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is spread primarily through contact with an infected person's blood (see Hepatitis C Transmission for more information).
There are two main types of hepatitis C: acute and chronic. People with acute hepatitis C are able to clear the HCV from the body within a few months of becoming infected. Most people, however, are unable to get rid of the virus completely, and the infection becomes chronic (which means persisting for a long time). Chronic hepatitis C can cause liver problems, including cirrhosis (scarring), liver cancer, and liver failure.
More than one type of hepatitis C virus can cause hepatitis C. The different types of the virus are known as hepatitis C genotypes. The main hepatitis C genotypes are known simply as genotypes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 (see Hepatitis C Genotypes to learn more, including why knowing the genotype is important). Genotype 1 is the genotype most commonly found in the United States, affecting between 70 and 90 percent of people with hepatitis C.
The goal of hepatitis C treatment is to completely clear the body of the HCV. Clearing the virus can help reduce swelling of the liver, stop scarring, and possibly reverse some of the liver damage. It may also reduce the long-term risk for liver cancer.
Treatment for hepatitis C usually involves combination therapy, which consists of taking more than one medication. Most people are treated with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin. However, less than 50 percent of people achieve a sustained virological response (SVR) with treatment. A SVR means that no hepatitis C virus ribonucleic acid (RNA) can be detected in your blood six months after finishing treatment. It suggests that the infection has been cured.
INCIVEK is approved to treat chronic hepatitis C genotype 1 in people with stable liver problems who have not been previously treated or have failed previous treatment. It is used in addition to peginterferon alfa and ribavirin, so that people receive triple combination therapy.
In clinical studies, 79 percent of people who received INCIVEK as part of their combination treatment achieved a sustained virological response. In addition, treatment with INCIVEK may be able to shorten total treatment duration in many people from 48 weeks down to 24 weeks.