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New drugs to treat hepatitis C welcomed despite costs

Doctors have welcomed the prospect of new drugs to treat the liver-destroying hepatitis C virus, writes [s]Reuters Health[/s]. [b]Gilead Sciences[/b] presented data at the [b]European Association for the Study of the Liver[/b] (EASL) conference showing a cure rate of 94% after eight weeks of treatment with itsexperimental [b]Sovaldi[/b] two-drug pill. Mid-stage trial results from [b]Merck & Co[/b] showed that 12 weeks of therapy with its two-drug combination cured 98% of previously-untreated patients. [b]AbbVie[/b] and [b]Bristol-Myers Squibb[/b] are also developing new generation all-oral hepatitis C treatments that have demonstrated cure rates in excess of 90%.

Mortality from viral hepatitis is significantly higher than from HIV/Aids across EU countries, results from [i]The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010[/i] (GBD 2010) show. [s]Medical Xpress[/s] reports that GBD 2010 is the most recent version of a large epidemiological study co-ordinated by the [b]Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation[/b] at the [b]University of Washington[/b]. Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) are estimated to have caused nearly 90,000 deaths that year in the EU, while there were just over 8,000 deaths from HIV/Aids. Dr Laurent Castera of the [b]Hôpital Beaujon[/b] in Paris said: ‘Although HIV/Aids undeniably remains a key global health priority, the higher mortality from viral hepatitis than from HIV/Aids in the EU means that hepatitis B and C must clearly now be counted among the top global and local priorities for health.’ The study is the largest ever systematic effort to describe the global distribution and causes of a wide array of major diseases, injuries, and health risk factors.

Other data presented at the EASL congress indicate that liver cancer, Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC), may be treated by adoptive T-cell therapy. [s]News-Medical[/s] reports that systemic treatments for advanced stage HCC are evolving and current approaches include drug treatment with [b]Sorafenib[/b] – yet the current standard of care still does not offer a strong enough prognosis for patients. Liver transplant is an option for only 10 to 15% of HCC carriers diagnosed at an early stage.

[link url=http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/11/us-hepatitis-gilead-sciences-idUSBREA3A0CL20140411]Full Reuters Health report[/link]
[link url=http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-04-viral-hepatitis-deadly-hiv-europe.html]Full Medical Xpress report[/link]
[link url=http://www.healthmetricsandevaluation.org/sites/default/files/policy_report/2011/GBD_Generating%20Evidence_Guiding%20Policy%20FINAL.pdf]GBD 2010 full study[/link]
[link url=http://www.news-medical.net/news/20140411/Adoptive-T-cell-therapy-may-help-in-treating-liver-cancer-says-study.aspx]Full News-Medical report [/link]

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