News ID: 193568
Published: 0930 GMT May 27, 2017

New drug may reduce transplant, mortality rates in hepatitis C

New drug may reduce transplant, mortality rates in hepatitis C

A new drug has been found to significantly reduce the risk of transplantation or death in patients with hepatitis C infection, according to a recent study by researchers at Intermountain Healthcare's Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Approximately 3.3 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C infection, which causes inflammation of the liver and can lead to serious liver problems like cirrhosis, which is a late stage of scarring — fibrosis — of the liver caused by hepatitis and chronic alcoholism, UPI wrote.

Researchers analyzed hepatitis C patients and found that after taking the drug sofosbuvir, the number of patients needing transplants was reduced by 40 percent.

They compared outcomes of 1,857 patients prior to the US Food and Drug Administration's, or FDA, approval of sofosbuvir in 2013 with 623 similar patients treated with sofosbuvir after its approval.

"Prior to FDA approval of sofosbuvir, patients with the most advanced stages of cirrhosis either died from their disease or ended up receiving a transplant," Dr. Michael Charlton, lead researcher from Intermountain Healthcare's Intermountain Medical Center Transplant Program, said in a press release.

"We found that by treating those patients, who were on the verge of needing a transplant, with sofosbuvir-based therapies, we greatly reduced the liver transplant and mortality rates."

Researchers found that only 3 percent of patients taking sofosbuvir required a transplant, while 40 percent of untreated patients who ended up needing a transplant.

"We found the sicker a patient was, the more benefit they experienced by using sofosbuvir," Charlton said. "However, many people around the world who might benefit most from this therapy don't have access to it because the regulatory authorities haven't felt it safe for use in patients with advanced stages of liver disease due to hepatitis C. Our research shows the benefits of this drug include significantly improving the health of even the sickest patients, allowing them to return to their normal life sooner."

The research will be presented at the 2017 International Liver Transplant Society Scientific Session.

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