The Food and Drug Administration advisory committee has given the OK on a new drug that treats Hepatitis C.
The committee unanimously voted to approve the drug boceprevir, which treats chronic hepatitis C genotype 1 infection, a viral disease that causes inflammation and swelling of the liver.
Boceprevir prevents the virus from replicating and would be added to the current two-drug regimen of ribavirin and peginterferon.
The three drugs used together has been proven much more effective than the current two-drug cocktail. In fact, doctors are calling this the cure for the virus!
Dr. Nizar Zein, section head of hepatology at the Cleveland Clinic, said:
"We can now say for the first time that we can cure hepatitis C. We are talking about complete cure, cure for life. Several studies have shown that once you achieve that endpoint, the sustained virological response, you will not get hepatitis C ever again and the risk of getting cirrhosis, needing liver transplant will go down substantially."
Although 66% of study patients that hadn't been treated or did not respond well to current treatment responded well to boceprevir, there are risks associated with the drug and Dr. Zein warns:
"If used inappropriately, the virus will rapidly develop resistance to these medications – rapidly, I mean 24 to 48 hours."
Yikes! That's kind of scary, however, with proper education and usage of the drug, the panel said the risks are manageable.
Despite the risks and considering the unanimous panel recommendation, this sounds like a pretty good drug to us, which will hopefully save thousands of lives!
[Image via AP Images.]