Hepatitis Treatments: High Cost, Low Effect
As the number of hepatitis C infections climbs, pharmaceutical companies develop more options for treatment of the deadly virus. According to USA Today, the group at highest risk for hepatitis C is born between 1945 and 1965, otherwise known as “baby boomers.” It is estimated that one out of every 33 baby boomers have contracted the virus; many may not even know they are infected. In 2007, 15,000 deaths were attributed to hepatitis C, more than even the HIV virus at 13,000.
Ineffective and Painful Treatments
The standard treatment drugs for hepatitis C, interferon and ribavirin, are administered over 48 weeks and have a 50% chance of success, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. This treatment has many side effects, including suicidal thoughts and depression, as well as physical symptoms like nausea and flu-like ailments.
- There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, and most patients with hepatitis C have a chronic form of the virus.
- Even though treatments may not be successful in removing the virus from the bloodstream, it may still prevent serious liver damage.
- Several drugs are currently in varying phases of testing, but they are riddled with side effects.
Experimental Treatment Discontinued After Patient Death
The experimental drug BMS-986094, a promising treatment for hepatitis C, was under development until a patient died of sudden heart failure. More injuries have been reported including heart and kidney damage.
- Experimental drugs cost patients thousands of dollars and most do not guarantee effectiveness or even safety.
- Patients place their well-being at risk due to the hope of a cure and a normal life, even while enduring dangerous and deadly side effects.
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