A good reason to celebrate, say hospital doctors
In India, it is estimated that up to 1.5% of the population has a hepatitis C infection, with certain areas in the Punjab, North East and tribal areas considered possible “hepatitis C virus hotspots”. With a global burden of 130-150 million people, hepatitis C, along with hepatitis B, are among the leading causes of liver cancer and pose a significant health challenge.
The standard of care for hepatitis C has changed over the years. Initially, it was only injectable interferon. Later, combinations of injectable interferon or pegylated interferon with ribavirin and protease inhibitors were introduced. More recently, the World Health Organization has recommended that newer oral agents called direct antiviral agents (DAA) be included for all patients with hepatitis C. DAAs have been found to be better tolerated, safer, need to be taken for a shorter time and are more effective.
Dr. Samir Shah, Head, Department of Hepatology, Institute of Liver Diseases, HPB Surgery and Transplant, Global Hospitals,Mumbai recently presented the results from a 14-centre study across India where a DAA, sofosbuvir, was used in an interferon-free combination with ribavirin, for 117 treatment-naïve patients with chronic hepatitis C infections. “We found that this regimen was more effective in our Indian patients than the reports from the West,” he said.