Saturday, February 26, 2005

FDA Approves First Ever Treatment for Hepatitis C in Patients with HIV

A press release by Roche pharmaceutical company talks about its new FDA approval and what it means for people living with HIV and Hepatitis C:

Roche announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first and only hepatitis C treatment, Pegasys(R) (peginterferon alfa-2a) in combination with Copegus(R) (ribavirin, USP) for patients coinfected with HIV.

Hepatitis C and HIV are the two most prevalent blood-borne infections in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 30 percent of Americans with HIV are believed to be infected with the even more common blood-borne virus hepatitis C. Chronic hepatitis C affects approximately 2.7 million Americans and HIV, almost one million. Research has shown that hepatitis C is more resistant to treatment in people with HIV.

The approval of Pegasys combination therapy for the treatment of hepatitis C in HIV patients was based on results from the largest study of its kind conducted to date. The results showed that 40 percent of the 860 patients treated had the levels of their virus become and stay undetectable for at least 24 weeks after finishing a course of treatment.
In Texas, this sort of treatment would be available through private insurance and Medicaid (both are listed on the Medicaid formulary as preferred drugs that do not require prior authorization). The Texas HIV Medication Program does not provide treatment for co-infection with either Hepatitis C or tuberculosis.

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