Things may be looking up for a long overlooked epidemic. There will be two very powerful drugs available soon that may help cure many people of the hepatitis C disease which attacks the liver. This said, most people who have the infection are not even aware of it yet.
Remarkably, around two-thirds of hepatitis C sufferers are believed to be baby boomers who may have acquired this disease in their carefree youth. The virus can take twenty to thirty years to complete its damage.
Perhaps it is time to consider if the government should suggest that baby boomers be checked for hepatitis C like they are for cancer.
This two-drug treatment for hepatitis C will cure about 40 percent of people who have the common variety of the virus, but can cause some unwelcome side effects. Major studies reveal that adding a new drug – either Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ telaprevir or Merck & Co.’s boceprevir – can lift those cure rates to as high as 75 percent. They also allow people to cut treatment time in half, about six months, which will reduce how long they have to endure those terrible side effects.
If the FDA approves the drugs, they would be the first to directly target the hepatitis C virus. The decision is expected to be announced sometime this summer.
The most significance could come if more people would get tested for hepatitis C, which is a blood-borne virus. Most people think that it is a only a risk for those who inject illegal drugs. The virus could also have begun from blood transfusions before 1992. Testing of the blood supply was not performed until then.
People are still exposed today in health care facilities due to errors in infection control. Even a one-time experiment with drugs, perhaps in college, could also expose someone. Many doctors are hesitant to ask a middle-aged conservative patient to reveal, according to Dr. John Ward.