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New Hepatitis C Drug Approved by FDA

New Hepatitis C Drug Approved by FDA

12/09/13

SATURDAY, Dec. 7, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- A new hepatitis C drug that can be taken as a pill once a day was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday.

The drug, called Sovaldi and made by Calif.-based Gilead Sciences Inc., works faster and should be much simpler to take for the millions of Americans who have the virus, which can destroy the liver if left untreated.

The FDA said in a statement that Sovaldi is to be taken with older drugs to treat the main forms of hepatitis C. The agency added that 3.2 million Americans have the disease, and people born between 1945 and 1965 are five times more likely to be infected.

Current treatments can take almost a year to beat back the virus, and involve weekly injections of the drug interferon, which can cause diarrhea and flu-like symptoms, the FDA said. Only about 75 percent of patients are cured with current treatments. In clinical trials, Sovaldi cured close to 90 percent of patients in just 12 weeks, when combined with the standard treatment.

Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) is the second hepatitis C drug to be approved by the FDA in the past two weeks. In November, the agency gave its blessing to Olysio (simeprevir), made by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, of Raritan, N.J.

Symptoms of hepatitis C disease may not appear until two or three decades after infection, though the virus can cause liver failure, cirrhosis and cancer, the FDA said.

Gilead Sciences said Friday that a four-week supply of the drug would cost $28,000 at the wholesale rate.

More information

Visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine for more on hepatitis C.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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