Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Hepatitis Health Center

Font Size

New Hepatitis C Combo Treatment Is a 'Cure' for Many

WebMD Health News

Sept 20, 2001 -- Doctors are still using the word "cure" around the new combination therapy for hepatitis C infection. Results of the first major clinical trial of the combination are being published in the Sept. 22 issue of the medical journal The Lancet, but doctors already call it the treatment of choice.

The new combination treatment has to be taken for close to a year and it does have some severe side effects, such as anemia, fatigue, depression, and flu-like symptoms. But it promises to knock out the virus in more than half of infected people -- and to prevent or delay liver disease in many others.

"This will be the new standard of care for hepatitis C," study leader Michael P. Manns, MD, tells WebMD. "In 54% of the patients, we find that their [blood] is free of the virus six months after treatment. This we call 'sustained virologic response' or SVR. It means cures. The treatment is eradicating the virus."

Manns leads the departments of gastroenterology and hepatology at the Medical University of Hannover, Germany.

There are several different strains of the hepatitis C virus, or HCV for short. Unfortunately, the most common strain in the U.S. -- called genotype 1 -- is the hardest to treat. Perhaps the most exciting thing about the new study is that more than 40% of people with genotype 1 HCV had an excellent response to the new combination.

Study participant Kay Fox was infected with the genotype 1 version of the virus. But now doctors can no longer detect the virus in her blood. "Nobody could be more thrilled than I am," the 51-year-old Missouri resident tells WebMD.

HCV was discovered only a decade ago. Researchers soon found that a manmade version of a natural virus-fighting substance -- interferon or IFN -- slowed the virus down. Then they found that an existing drug -- ribavirin -- made interferon work better. Now two drug companies have created a new form of interferon that works even better when given along with ribavirin.

The new interferons are called "pegylated" or "PEG" versions of the older drug. These versions allow the drug to stay in the body much longer. Instead of the frequent injections needed for standard interferon, someone with HCV needs only one shot a week of the PEG interferons. But the drugs aren't easy to take; both PEG interferon and ribavirin cause serious side effects.

Today on WebMD

Hepatitus C virus
Types, symptoms and treatments.
liver illustration
Myths and facts about this essential organ.
woman eating apple
What you need to know.
doctor and patient
What causes it?
Hepatitis C Treatment
Syringes and graph illustration
liver illustration
passport, pills and vaccine
Scientist looking in microscope
Fatty Liver Disease
Digestive Diseases Liver Transplantation
Picture Of The Liver
Image Collection