A new era in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C infection
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- Jothimani, D., Chandy, G.M. & Conjeevaram, H. Indian J Gastroenterol (2013) 32: 71. doi:10.1007/s12664-012-0254-5
Treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has evolved over the past three decades. At the start, treatment involved interferon monotherapy followed by combination therapy using interferon and ribavirin, and subsequently evolved to pegylated interferon (Peg-IFN) and ribavirin. In genotype 1 infection, rates of sustained virological response (SVR) are approximately 45 % with Peg-IFN and ribavirin, whereas SVR rates in genotypes 2 and 3 infections are as high as 70 % to 80 %. Side effects and cost related to these drugs are important concerns, particularly in countries like India where patients have to bear their health expenses. In the recent past, there has been a significant change in course with the on-going search and the development of more effective drugs in the management of HCV infection. Telaprevir and Boceprevir are two new potent protease inhibitors (direct acting antiviral or DAA agents) which, when administered with Peg-IFN and ribavirin, have shown to result significantly higher SVR rates in phase 3 studies in patients with genotype 1 infection, both in treatment naïve patients (up to 75 %) and those with previously failed therapy. Several other new antiviral agents some in combination with Peg-IFN and ribavirin and some in combination without Peg-IFN (IFN-free regimens) are currently being tested in patients with genotype 1, 2 and 3 infections and are expected to dramatically change the armamentarium of HCV therapy in the coming years.