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Winthrop Offers Breakthrough Therapies for Hepatitis C

Winthrop-University Hospital’s Center for Liver Diseases is pleased to be among the first on Long Island to offer patients two new FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of the most common form of hepatitis C (genotype 1) – a virus that causes inflammation of the liver and can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.

Since their approval by the FDA in June, the drugs – Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ Incivek (or telaprevir) and Merck & Co.’s Victerilis (also known as bocepivar) – both of which directly target the virus by blocking viral enzymes – have shown great promise, with cure rates as high as 75 percent when either drug is administered in conjunction with the standard treatment regimen of weekly interferon injections and daily ribavirin pills. Prior to the introduction of these new drugs, cure rates with the standard treatment were approximately 45 percent.

New therapies have increased hepatitis C cure rates from 45 percent to 75 percent.
Since their approval by the FDA in June, the drugs – Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ Incivek (or telaprevir) and Merck & Co.’s Victerilis (also known as bocepivar) – both of which directly target the virus by blocking viral enzymes – have shown great promise, with cure rates as high as 75 percent when either drug is administered in conjunction with the standard treatment regimen of weekly interferon injections and daily ribavirin pills. Prior to the introduction of these new drugs, cure rates with the standard treatment were approximately 45 percent.

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Illustration courtesy of the CDC
“These medication therapies are an exciting breakthrough in the treatment of hepatitis C and can potentially increase the cure rate for many patients with the hepatitis C genotype 1 infection, which is the hardest to treat,” said Board Certified hepatologist Peter F. Malet, MD, Director of the Center for Liver Diseases at Winthrop. “Winthrop’s Center for Liver Diseases is excited to add these new drugs to its armamentarium of treatment options and to provide patients with the highest level of expertise and care for their safe administration.”

What’s more, adding either of these breakthrough therapies to the standard treatment regimen can cut treatment time in half for most patients – from 12 months to six months – thus decreasing patients’ exposure to harsh side effects which can include flu-like symptoms, rash and anemia, among others.

“Treatment can be rigorous and it’s important that individuals be closely monitored by an expert team, such as the one that we have here at Winthrop,” added Dr. Malet.

Under the direction of Dr. Malet, The Center for Liver Diseases also offers a full spectrum of evaluation and treatment services – including liver transplantation in conjunction with New York- Presbyterian Hospital/ Columbia University Medical Center.

For more information on the advanced therapies available at Winthrop’s Center for Liver Diseases, call 1-866- WINTHROP.
Vol. 22, No. 1
Winter/Spring 2012

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