Liver Meeting '15 wrapup: Battling more hep C genotypes, shortening treatment regimens
SAN FRANCISCO —The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases' annual Liver Meeting concluded Tuesday. And one major theme emerged from the final slew of presentations and discussions: Having shifted the paradigm of hepatitis treatment, drug makers are moving on to aggressively tackling all genotypes of HCV and reducing the period of treatment.
Current regimens involving game-changing drugs such as Sovaldi, Harvoni, and Viekira Pak range from 8 weeks to 12 weeks, after which more than 90% of patients achieve a sustained virologic response. These treatments are also aimed at some of the more common genotypes of HCV (Sovaldi, for instance, is indicated for genotypes 1 through 4, and genotype 1 is by far the mos common one in the U.S.).
Now, companies like Gilead, Merck, and AbbVie are working on pangeontypic single-tablet regimens. And some research has shown that early detection and treatment can elicit rapid virologic responses in patients, and that these patients may see a sustained response in as little as 3 to 4 weeks. As we covered earlier this week, Merck's combo treatment has shown promise in some of the hardest-to-treat patients, including IV drug abusers.
Dr. Norah Terrault shared the following slide summarizing the biggest takeaways from this year's conference during her Hepatitis Debrief presentation Tuesday morning:
One of the major issues that's also been highlighted during the Liver Meeting panels is how crucial effective screening and testing services are to quelling the hepatitis epidemic, which has seen a soaring death rate as patients who contracted the virus decades ago advance to the latest stages of the disease. Conservative estimates find that millions of Americans are likely unaware that they even have the infection, making treatment and a cure that much more difficult.