Pros and Cons of New Hepatitis C Drugs
Hepatitis C treatment is getting faster, simpler, and more effective.
Patients on the new hepatitis C medication, Harvoni, need only pop one pill per day. Some can be cured in as little as eight weeks. And patients who take Viekira Pak, a new combination pill, for 12 to 24 weeks, don’t need an added injection. This is a huge difference from just a few years ago, when hepatitis C patients had to take ribavirin pills and interferon injections for almost a year, and most weren’t cured.
“Harvoni is very easy to take, it doesn’t have any significant side effects,” says David Bernstein, MD, chief of hepatology for the North Shore LIJ Health System in Manhasset, N.Y. “The only thing that you see is some patients get an occasional mild headache, which is easily treatable with aspirin or Tylenol.”
Prior interferon-containing combo treatments had side effects that included anemia, depression, and flu-like symptoms among others.