By Drew Armstrong and Robert Langreth
Source – New England Journal of Medicine / Hepatitis Central
A combination of two experimental pills, from Bristol- Myers Squibb Co. (BMY), cleared the hepatitis C virus in 36 percent of patients whose condition had not responded to standard treatment, according to studies recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study is the first to suggest that difficult hepatitis C cases may be cured without using the injected drug interferon, said Anna Lok, the lead study author and director of hepatology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Interferon can cause unpleasant side effects including fatigue and flu-like symptoms.
Drug companies including Bristol-Myers, Merck & Co., Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD), and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. are racing to come up with interferon-free treatment. The new results in 21 patients show that such a therapy will be possible, Lok said.