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Hepatitis C

May 6, 2012
Re "Hepatitis a new worry for baby boomers," May 2 In the late 1960s I was a Peace Corps volunteer teaching school in Uganda. I became ill and required blood transfusions. Fast forward 30 years and I'm donating my own blood for surgery. Imagine my surprise when the Red Cross informed me that I had hepatitis C, something I had never heard of. I had contracted it from those long-ago transfusions. Once my initial panic subsided, I was fortunate to find an excellent heptologist who eventually persuaded me to undergo treatment.
May 2, 2012 | By Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times
The number of baby boomers dying from a "silent epidemic" of hepatitis C infections is increasing so rapidly that federal officials are planning a new nationwide push for widespread testing. Three in four of the estimated 3.2 million people who have chronic hepatitis C - and a similar proportion of those who die from the disease - are baby boomers. Deaths from the virus nearly doubled between 1999 and 2007 to more than 15,000, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.
February 21, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Hepatitis C mortality rates surpassed HIV mortality rates in the United States in 2007, researchers said Monday. In a study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine ( abstract here ), U.S. Centers for Disease Control researchers analyzed causes of death on more than 21.8 million U.S. death certificates filed between 1999 and 2007. Rates of death related to hepatitis C, a viral infection that causes chronic liver disease, rose at an average rate of .18 deaths per 100,000 persons per year.
January 18, 2012 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
A major advance in treating hepatitis C appears to be on the horizon. Researchers reported Wednesday that combining two antiviral medications was effective in stopping the infection in some patients who were not helped by the traditional treatment. Progress in fighting hepatitis C infection is of high importance because millions of Americans have the virus. However, the standard treatment with the medication interferon, while effective in many people, is linked to severe side effects.
October 11, 2011 | By Diana Marcum, Los Angeles Times
Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed two bills that will expand access to sterile syringes for drug users in an effort to combat the spread of hepatitis C and HIV. The first bill, written by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), allows people to buy syringes at pharmacies without a prescription. California was one of the few states where this was illegal, other than in a few pilot program areas. The second bill, introduced by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), allows the state to authorize needle exchange programs in areas deemed high risk for the spread of disease.
July 21, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog
The hepatitis C virus, normally thought to be transmitted exclusively through blood - such as by sharing of needles among intravenous drug abusers - can also be transmitted through sexual activity, principally through anal sex among gay men, a growing body of evidence suggests. The most recent evidence was reported Thursday by New York City researchers who documented an outbreak of the virus, commonly known as HCV, among gay men. Hepatitis C, which can cause severe liver disease and even death if left untreated, affects an estimated 3.2 million Americans.
May 23, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog
The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved telaprevir for the treatment of hepatitis C, the second drug for the disease approved in two weeks. On May 13, the agency approved boceprevir, sold under the brand name Victrelis. The two drugs are the first new treatments for hepatitis C in 20 years. Both are members of a new class of drugs called protease inhibitors that block replication of an enzyme that is crucial to the replication of the virus. Like boceprevir, telaprevir, sold under the brand name Incivek by Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., is meant to be used only in conjunction with the standard therapy of peginterferon-alpha and ribavirin.
May 13, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved marketing of the Merck drug boceprevir, the first new drug for hepatitis C in 20 years. The agency is still considering approval of a similar drug, telaprevir, and is expected to approve it soon as well. Both drugs are members of a new class of hepatitis drugs called protease inhibitors, which block a key enzyme required by the virus to replicate. They are expected to convert hepatitis C from a debilitating disease into a manageable condition for the majority of people infected with the virus.
April 29, 2011 | By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey
Two new drugs to treat hepatitis C got strong – that is, unanimous – backing this week from an advisory panel to the FDA. Both are meant to be given in combination with standard therapy and, together, offer new options for people with the virus. One drug,  boceprevir , manufactured by Merck, has been shown in clinical trials  to roughly double the number of patients who suppress the hepatitis C  virus to undetectable levels — a “viral cure” — when compared to those who undergo regular therapy alone.  The other drug,  telaprevir , developed by Vertex, has achieved a 75% cure rate when administered to previously untreated patients as part of combination therapy.  The panel’s decisions don’t guarantee FDA approval, but the FDA tends to follow the panel’s recommendations.
March 31, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
Two experimental drugs promise to transform hepatitis C from a debilitating liver disease into a manageable condition for a majority of patients, researchers said Wednesday. The new drugs work by blocking a key enzyme that the hepatitis C virus needs to make copies of itself and spread. They promise to revolutionize treatment for patients in much the same way as protease inhibitors did for HIV patients in 1995, experts said. The two drugs, called boceprevir and telaprevir, nearly doubled the number of patients who achieve what is known as a sustained viral suppression — in effect, a cure — among those with new hepatitis C infections.
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