Life after hepatitis C can be sweet, indeed. A patient who achieves a sustained viral response
(SVR), which is another term meaning they are cured of the hepatitis C infection, can expect a lifespan just as long as someone who never had this disease.
The year just keeps getting better and better for those with hepatitis C. In the past year, we’ve seen several new medications earn U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval; these treatments – Harvoni®, Sovaldi®, and Olysio™ – bring extremely high cure rates matched with blessedly low side effects. Now there’s this wonderful research from Adriaan J. van der Meer, M.D., Ph.D., of the Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues showing that cured hepatitis C patients can look forward to a long life after successful treatment.
Life expectancy takes a serious downtick with hepatitis C infection primarily due to the increased incidence of cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. Researchers weren’t sure how much those disease risks could be mitigated after treatment. To find out, 454 hepatitis C patients were followed for 8.4 years after treatment. Then, the sub-set of 192 cured patients was compared to a matched group of people who never had a hepatitis C infection. Over time, these two groups (those cured of hepatitis C and those who never had the disease) had the same survival rates.
Prior research showed that successful treatment of hepatitis C brings a longer life, compared to hepatitis C patients who stay infected. However, what this new study adds to the story is more good news. Successful treatment has now been shown to not just bring a longer life compared to infected patients, but lifespan gets back on track and can be just as long as people who never even had hepatitis C.
Stephen C. Vogt, Pharm.D.
President and CEO
BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy
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van der Meer AJ, Wedemeyer H, Feld JJ. Life expectancy in patients with chronic HCV infection and cirrhosis compared with a general population. JAMA 2014;312(18):1927-8.