Lighter Regimen of Drugs Successful in Treating Hepatitis C at UTSW

Clinical studies performed at UT Southwestern have researchers hopeful that a shortened regimen of medicine treating hepatitis C will be more effective than the industry standard.

The regimen requires just one pill a day, down from the standard of six daily pills and weekly shots. The drugs were approved in December of last year and have been administered in 10 clinical trials at the hospital.

“It looks like by the end of this year we will be down to one pill a day and no shots, with a total treatment period of just 12 weeks. It’s going to change treatment dramatically,” said Dr. William Lee in a statement. “It’s stunning how much more effective these newer drugs are. In some cases, success rates are close to 100 percent.”

The cure rate with the previous treatment was only about 40 percent, Lee said. Side effects were often debilitating and the regimen lasted a full year.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 4.1 million people have hepatitis C, of which 75 percent are unaware. Participants in the trial have tested virus free at four weeks, researchers said. Slight fatigue, a lack of appetite and a minor skin rash are the only side effects reported with the new treatment.