Source: Clinical Infectious Diseases first published online March 2, 2015
Health (NIH) funded this small study. Researchers enrolled 114 subjects
with chronic hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) who had genotype 1 and
no prior treatment. The goal was to see if HCV RNA levels (viral load)
at the end of treatment (EOT) negatively or positively predicted
sustained virologic response (SVR12). Two viral load tests were used:
The Roche COBAS TaqMan HCV test and the Abbott RealTime HCV assay.
LLOQ is lower limit of quantification, which is the lowest amount of virus that can be precisely counted.
PPV is positive predictive
value, which predicts the probability that the test will be positive.
For instance, if there are 100 people and the PPV is 90%, this means
that it is likely that 90 will test positive.
NPV is negative predictive
value, which predicts the probability that the test will be negative.
If there are 100 people and the NPV is 2%, this means that it is likely
that two will test negative.
Sofosbuvir and ribavirin for 24 weeks (n=55):
All patients treated with sofosbuvir and
ribavirin (55/55) had HCV RNA <LLOQ at EOT by the Roche and Abbott
tests, but only 38 achieved SVR12 (PPV: 69%). Simply put, this means
that if your viral load at EOT is less than the LLOQ, you have a 69%
chance of having an SVR12.
Harvoni (sofosbuvir and
ledipasvir) for 12 weeks (n=20); Harvoni and GS-9669 for 6 weeks
(n=20); Harvoni and GS-9451 for 6 weeks (n=19):
In the Harvoni-based regimens +/- GS-9669 or
GS-9451, 100% of the subjects (59/59) had HCV RNA <LLOQ at EOT, with
one relapse (PPV: 98%). The Abbott assay had 90% (53/59) with HCV RNA
<LLOQ with one relapse (PPV: 98%).
The Bottom Line: In
the past when using interferon-based treatments, a detectable viral
load at EOT meant that treatment wouldn’t be successful. With
Harvoni-based HCV treatment, this rule no longer applies—a detectable
viral load at EOT DOES NOT mean that treatment will not be successful.
This research leads me to two points. First, don‘t despair if you have
detectable virus during or at the end of HCV treatment. Second, be sure
your doctor doesn’t stop treatment just because you have detectable
HCV RNA. The HCV guidelines recommend viral load testing after 4 weeks
of therapy and at 12 weeks following treatment completion. If
quantitative HCV viral load is detectable at week 4 of treatment, repeat
viral load testing at treatment week 6. If viral load has increased by
greater than 10-fold on repeat testing at week 6 (or thereafter), then
discontinuation of HCV treatment is recommended. There are no other
recommendations to stop or extend therapy based on viral load results.
Article: Treating HCV Infection in Children – Christine K. Lee and Maureen M. Jonas
Source: Clinical Liver Disease January 2015; Volume 5, Issue 1, pages 14–16
rate of adults with HCV, this study assessed treatment options in
children with HCV. However, the newer, more effective, easier to
tolerate HCV medications have not been approved for children.
The Bottom Line:
Children don’t usually progress to advanced liver disease, so the
researchers recommend deferring HCV treatment for children until
interferon-free regimens are approved, or until children become adults.
If treatment cannot be deferred, therapies using peginterferon and
ribavirin can be given to children with compensated liver disease.
Editorial Comment: In last month’s HCV Advocate,
I wrote about children with hepatitis C, chronicling the lack of safe
HCV treatment options for kids. This new research supports my opinion
that children need better options, and soon.
Cost-Effectiveness and Budget Impact of Hepatitis C Virus Treatment
with Sofosbuvir and Ledipasvir in the United States – Jagpreet
Chhatwal, et al.
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine March 17, 2015; 162(6):397-406
(sofosbuvir and ledipasvir) is safer and has higher cure rates than the
old interferon-based treatments, but Harvoni is substantially more
expensive. This NIH-funded study evaluated the cost-effectiveness and
budget impact of Harvoni.
The Bottom Line:
This research found that HCV treatment using Harvoni is cost-effective
in most patients, but noted limitations of their research.
While I understand the value of measuring the financial impact of new
HCV medications compared to the older drugs, I am reminded by words
purportedly said by former U.S. Surgeon General, Julius Richmond,
“Statistics are people with their tears wiped dry.”
of poor mental and physical health status among patients with chronic
hepatitis C infection: The Chronic Hepatitis Cohort Study – Joseph A.
Source: Hepatology March 2015; Volume 61, Issue 3, pages 802–811
evaluate the extent and risk factors for depression and poor physical
health among HCV patients. They collected survey data from 4,781
participants, averaging 57 years old, 71% White, and 57% male. Slightly
more than half reported past injection drug use, a third were current
smokers, and nearly 18% had abused alcohol in the previous year.
Around, 47% had been previously treated for HCV and 15% had an SVR.
The Bottom Line: Nearly
30% of HCV patients met criteria for current depression and 25% were
in poor physical health. These risks increased among men, Blacks, less
educated, unemployed, stress, and little social support. These risks
were lower in those who achieved an SVR.
Over the years, similar studies to this one have been done, yielding
similar results. Depression scores tend to be higher even among
HCV-positive people who are unaware that they have HCV. Reading this
study on the heels of the previous one about the cost-effectiveness of
HCV treatment, I can only shake my head, and ask, “When are we going to
treat all HCV patients?”