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Home Industry News Drug ‘benefits hep C patients’

Drug ‘benefits hep C patients’

29th November 2007

A new drug could help patients with hepatitis C to start conventional antiviral treatments, phase two trials have found.

The treatment, eltrombopag (marketed as Promacta in the US and Revolade in Europe) is in the form of a once-a-day pill and boosts low platelet counts, one of the reasons why patients cannot endure antiviral medication.

Other drugs which achieve this are infusions or injections.

An international team of researchers studied the drug in 74 patients with low platelet counts and cirrhosis of the liver due to hepatitis C infection (HCV).

Their findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, show that it boosted platelet counts in a majority of patients at each of three dosage levels.

This enabled most of them to continue or start conventional antiviral treatment.

“We feel this is an important development for many people infected with the hepatitis C virus world-wide,” said Dr John McHutchison, professor of medicine and associate director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

“A significant number of patients with HCV infection will at some point develop platelet problems that will compromise their getting the best treatments we have. Anything we can do to prevent that from happening would improve their care.”

It is estimated that about 170 million people worldwide carry the hepatitis C virus, which causes inflammation and scarring in the liver.

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