MAYWOOD, IL – Hepatitis C drugs cure more than 90% of patients, but can cost more than $ 50,000 per patient.
The findings of a new study could lead to significant cost savings. Preliminary data from the study, led by a theoretical modeling researcher at the Loyola University School of Medicine and Medical Biology, found that in 50 percent of the patients, the standard 12-week to 6-week regimen could be shortened without impairing efficacy.
"There is a potential to save up to 20% of the costs of hepatitis C drugs," said Dr. Harel Dahari, a researcher with Loyola, who is the author of the first study with Dr. Ohad Etzion of the Soroka University Medical Center in Israel. From Beilinson Hospital in Israel.
The study was presented on November 12 during the annual meeting of the American Society for Liver Disease Research in San Francisco.
Dr. Dahari is co-director of the program for Experimental Theoretical Modeling (PETM) in the Division of Hepatology of Loyola Medicine and Loyola University of Chicago and Strich School of Medicine.More two authors of Loyola are Susan O'Farich, PhD, PhD, co-director of PETM and Professor A member of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Scott Kotler, MD, head of the Loyola Medicine Department of Pathology and a professor in the Department of Medicine at Loyola University School of Medicine at the University of Chicago.
Hepatitis C is an infection caused by a virus that has spread through contaminated blood. This can cause liver damage, liver failure and liver cancer. About 70 million people worldwide, including about three million in the United States, are chronically infected with hepatitis C.
A type of oral medication called direct anti-viral activity (DAA) has revolutionized the treatment of hepatitis C. In more than 90% of patients, drugs eliminate the virus and cure the patient, with minimal side effects. But the high cost of access limits is a significant financial burden on Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers.
"The treatment is currently documented for a fixed period of time, usually 12 weeks, rather than being personalized to the patient," Dr. Kotler said.
In the new study, the researchers used a personalized medicine technique called model-driven response-based therapy to reduce treatment times when possible. After the patients underwent treatment for several weeks, the researchers looked at how low levels of hepatitis C were. They used mathematical models to estimate how long it would take to completely eliminate the virus.
The study included 22 patients so far. Mathematical models predicted that treatment could be shortened to 10 weeks in one patient (5% of all patients), eight weeks in eight patients (36%) and six weeks in two patients (9%). The other 11 patients (50%) needed treatment for 12 weeks.
Twenty-one patients remained without viruses. The only patient who returned to the condition was the most difficult to treat hepatitis C virus, known as genotype 3.
Research has shown that using response-driven therapy to reduce treatment times is possible. In order to verify the results, a large multi-center study is being conducted in Israel.
According to Dr. Dahari, in addition to cost savings, shorter treatment will make it easier to treat patients with hepatitis C who have limited health insurance benefits.
The study was conducted with Dr. David Yardeni, MD, Anat Nevo-Shor, MD, Daniella Montano, MD, and Naim Abu-Farah, Department of Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases, Soroka University Medical Center, Be'er Sheva; Michal Cohen-Naftali, Dr. Orly Sneh Arbiv, MD, and Marius Brown, MD, Liver Institute, Rabin Medical Center, Beilinson Hospital, Petah Tikva; And Dr. Orna Mor of the Central Department of Virology, Ministry of Health, Sheba Medical Center, Israel.
The study, called "Response-Oriented Therapy with DAA, shortens the duration of treatment in 50% of patients treated with HCV."
The study was supported in part by Clalit, the Israel Health Organization, and the American Institute of Health.
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