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

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

Natalie Cole's Hepatitis C: FAQ

Questions and Answers About Natalie Cole's Hepatitis C and 'Chemotherapy'

How is hepatitis C treated?

Hepatitis C is treated with two drugs: long-acting interferon (called pegylated interferon or peginterferon) and ribavirin.

Pegintereferon "gets the immune system to handle the virus a little more effectively," says Bacon. Ribavirin is an antiviral medicine, "but it doesn't work against hepatitis C alone; it only works in conjunction with interferon."

New treatments are in the works. "Those new treatments are a class of drugs called protease inhibitors," says Bacon, singling out two protease inhibitors -- telapravir and boceprevir -- as being "far along in development."

Is Natalie Cole really getting chemotherapy for hepatitis C?

The chemotherapy that you'd get for cancer isn't used to treat hepatitis C. But Bacon says hepatitis C treatment can have side effects "that are akin to what patients experience when they receive cancer chemotherapy." That includes temporary hair loss.

The peginterferon-ribavirin combination is "sometimes loosely called chemotherapy," says Bacon. "I don't like to give it that negative connotation, to try to keep things positive for patients. So I call it treatment for their viral infection or antiviral therapy."

How long does treatment take?

That depends on the strain, or genotype, of the virus. Those genotypes vary around the world. The most common genotype in the U.S. takes 48 weeks to treat, says Bacon.

Can hepatitis C be cured?

The combination of peginterferon and ribavirin cures hepatitis C in 50% to 60% of cases, according to Bacon. He predicts that the protease inhibitors that are being developed will boost the cure rate to 70% to 80%.

"So often people say, 'Oh, there's no cure; I'm not going to do anything about it.' But there is a cure. You can have the virus eradicated up to 50%-60% of the time," says Bacon.

What about a hepatitis C vaccine?

There isn't one. "The virus changes very quickly," making it very hard to create a vaccine, notes Bacon.

1 | 2 | 3

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