November 21, 2011
Gilead Sciences Inc struck a deal to buy biotechnology company Pharmasset Inc for about $11 billion in a huge bet to diversify its portfolio with new hepatitis C treatments. Gilead, the world's largest maker of HIV drugs, will pay $137 per share for each Pharmasset share, an 89% premium to Pharmasset's Friday closing price. Pharmasset has been one of the hottest biotech stocks in the last year based on the potential of its experimental hepatitis C medicines to create a treatment regimen for the liver disease without commercially manufactured interferons.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 11, 2011 |
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 26, 2011
For a generally progressive state, California falls surprisingly behind on certain issues. One of these is allowing the purchase of syringes without a prescription. Syringes are already an over-the-counter medical supply in 47 states. It's long past time for the same to be true in California. A pilot program signed into law in 2004 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger allowed sales of syringes by pharmacies in counties that elected to join. Los Angeles was one of those. Yes, most of the sales were to addicts, who used the syringes to further their use of illegal drugs.
July 21, 2011 |
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 |
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 |
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.
May 12, 2011 |
Not only can bedbugs harbor MRSA, they could potentially, just maybe, spread the drug-resistant bacteria, researchers – and resulting headlines — are speculating. The thought is a scary one, but not much different than what we already knew about the threat from these generally nocturnal parasites . It’s certainly plausible that a blood-sucking bug can spread blood-transmitted diseases, but scientists haven’t found much evidence they do so. Here’s the low-down on what’s known on bedbugs and disease.
April 29, 2011 |
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.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 8, 2011 |
Dr. Baruch Blumberg, who received the 1976 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for discovering the hepatitis B virus, which causes severe liver disease and cancer, and who later developed the vaccine that protects against it, has died. He was 85. Blumberg died Tuesday after apparently suffering a heart attack after delivering the keynote address at a NASA conference at the agency's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in Mountain View, near San Jose. The isolation of the hepatitis B virus and development of a test for it were the first steps in the elimination of the virus from the U.S. blood supply, and the development of the vaccine led to a sharp decline in the incidence of both infections and liver cancer worldwide.
March 31, 2011 |
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.