New Questions Arise about Hep C Drug Safety

A new report from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices suggests some recently-approved antiviral medicines for hepatitis C—hep C—may cause serious side effects, including liver failure. The report, which is based on information from the FDA's database of potential adverse effects of medications from doctors around the world, is not the first research that has indicated there might be problems with these drugs. Sovaldi and Harvoni—medications that can cure hep C in as few as 12 weeks in many cases—are covered in the recent report.

Hepatitis C is a contagious, blood-borne liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong infection that damages the liver and can cause liver cancer. Hep C is the primary reason for liver transplant in the U.S. According to the CDC, about 3.2 million people in the U.S. are living with hepatitis C—and most people don’t know they have the virus. The most common source of infection is needle-sharing among illegal drug users.

More research is needed. The adverse effects seen in some patients taking antivirals to treat hep C may be the result of the medicines being prescribed incorrectly—perhaps being given to patients with poor liver function who are unable to tolerate or benefit from the drugs.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

Sourced from: The New York Times