New drug cures Hepatitis C in HIV patients

Washington: In a ray of hope for patients infected with both HIV and Hepatitis C, researchers have found that a combination drug therapy cures chronic Hepatitis C in majority of such patients.

Hepatitis C is a leading cause of death among HIV co-infected patients.

"Because of poor tolerability to the previous standard of treatments for Hepatitis C, co-infection patients were considered difficult to treat," said Mark Sulkowski, medical director of the Johns Hopkins Infectious Disease Centre for Viral Hepatitis.

Now, the data from a Phase III clinical trial have been incorporated into the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of the new drug called sofosbuvir.

"The treatment with a new all-oral regimen - sofosbuvir and ribavirin - is now considered on-label," researchers reported.

For the trial, doctors administered sofosbuvir and ribavirin to a total of 223 HIV-1 patients chronically co-infected with Hepatitis C either for 12 weeks.

Twelve weeks after the treatment ended, researchers tested patients again for Hepatitis C infection to determine if the treatment was effective.

They found that 76 percent patients with genotype 1, 88 percent with genotype 2 and 67 percent with genotype 3 were cured.

"We have always termed this to be 'sustained virologic response but we now know that means hepatitis C has been cured," Sulkowski noted.

The trial study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.