New Drug Cures Hard-to-Treat Hepatitis C
3-Drug Treatment Coming Soon, Expert Says
WebMD News Archive
Half of HCV Patients Cured continued...
The researchers report that:
- Just over half (52%) of telaprevir-treated patients were free of virus six
months after therapy ended, compared to just 14% of those who did not take
- Patients who had responded to initial treatment, but later relapsed, did
best on the three-drug regimen, with about three out of four achieving a cure
the second time around.
- Slightly less than 40% of previous non-responders who got the triple
therapy responded, compared to just 8% of those treated with standard therapy
- Responses were better with the three-drug regimen than with peginterferon
and telaprevir alone, suggesting that ribavirin is an important component of
- Responses were similar with 24 and 48 weeks of treatment in patients on the
triple-drug regimen, but fewer side effects were reported with the shorter
Anemia and rash were the two most commonly reported side effects with the
More than three times as many patients in the telaprevir groups left the
study because of troubling side effects. In all, 15% abandoned treatment
compared to 4% of patients treated with peginterferon and ribavirin alone.
‘We had hoped adding (telaprevir) would not add to the side effect profile,
but it is now clear there are more side effects with three drugs than two,”
McHutchison tells WebMD. “I guess it’s true there is no free ride.”
Telaprevir’s manufacturer, Vertex Pharmaceuticals funded the study.
McHutchison says he has received speaker and advisory fees from the company but
has no other financial interest in the drug.
Shorter Treatment, Better Outcomes
In a study of previously untreated patients published last spring,
McHutchison and colleagues reported better cure rates with half as much
standard treatment when telaprevir was added.
A total of 41% of patients treated with 48 weeks of peginterferon and
ribavirin achieved cures, compared to 61% of patients treated with 12 weeks of
telaprevir and 24 weeks of peginterferon/ribavirin.
Bacon says slightly higher cure rates have been reported with the other
investigational protease inhibitor boceprevir, but that these studies included
48 weeks of treatment.
“It may come down to patient preference,” he says. “Will patients give up a
shorter treatment course for a higher cure rate? I know many of my patients
Results from the phase III studies of telaprevir and boceprevir are expected
later this year.