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New drug boosts hepatitis C treatments

Experimental medication passes key test on road to FDA approval for treating virus

10:35am, March 31, 2011

Adding an experimental drug to standard treatment more than doubles the likelihood of knocking out hepatitis C in patients with the chronic liver infection, two studies in the March 31 New England Journal of Medicine show.

The new drug, boceprevir, and a similar drug called telaprevir (SN: 5/23/09, p. 12) have now shown the ability to wipe out the virus in many patients. Both drugs are currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration, and scientists feel that both are destined for approval.

“This is the first time I can remember being so optimistic about this really difficult virus,” says Donald Jensen, a hepatologist at the University of Chicago School of Medicine who wasn’t involved in the new studies. Hepatitis C can lead to liver cirrhosis and cancer.

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