I want to address the recent headlines in the news that has appeared in the last couple of days. Once example is: “Are New Drugs for Hepatitis C Safe? A Report Raises Concerns.” These headlines and other stories are needlessly scary. Some patients may think twice about starting treatment or decide to skip treatment. This is not a good health care decision.
Here’s what I know from the news stories that are on the Internet:
It’s quoted that 250,000 people worldwide have been treated with the direct-acting antiviral medications (pills):
- 524 people have had liver failure – 524 divided by 250,000 people treated = .002 or .2%
- 165 people died –165 divided by 250,000 people treated = .00066 or .066%
- 761 people who were treated but treatment was ineffective –761 divided by 250,000 = .003 or .3%
Importantly, we do not know if the drugs caused the liver failures or deaths. Maybe a more thoughtful approach is to be more vigilant about the people being treated—both starting on and during treatment. This is even more important for people with cirrhosis.
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