Sunday, September 20, 2009

How Roche Made Hepatitis C More Visible #iiwk09

Back in June of 2005, Roche Pharmaceuticals started a new campaign to raise awareness about Hepatitis CHCV) and encourage those with HCV to seek treatment. This campaign consisted of several posters like the one featured at the top of this post. As you can see, the poster raised the question, "If Hep C was attacking your face instead of your liver, you'd do something about it." Right?

Well I guess, in theory, if Hepatitis C disfigured my face I'd be trying to figure out how to make my face look better. But the assumption that it would lead me to choose HCV treatment might be a faulty one. After all, an easier option would be to just invest in some really good makeup or receive some kind of dermatolgical treatment to cover up the symptoms.

You see, I have genotype 1b and treating genotypes 1a and 1b is especially difficult. The treatment success rate for genotype 1 is about 50% --- a coin toss. Current treatment is a combination of interferon and ribaviran, which I did try back in 2007 when directed by two different rheumatologist to seek treatment as they felt my chronic HCV infection was fueling my fibromyalgia. After three weeks, I wound up in the hospital September 11, 2007. I stopped the treatment because of side-effects; side effects made severe due to impairment of my immune system and my dysautonomia which are late effects from my leukemia treatment in 1988.

I hope and pray every day that the next generation of Hepatitis C treatments, protease inhibitors, hurry up and get here. Similar to the drugs used to combat HIV, protease inhibitors hold the promise of a more tolerable and less debilitating HCV treatment. Early results from several clinical trials look very promising, but according to the hepatology team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the FDA has asked that these new medications be tried in combination before final approval. That means that pharmaceutical companies like Schering, Vertex, Pharmasett and Intermune need to work together to make antiviral HCV treatment a reality.

I am encouraged by the news at the HCV Advocate website that the very first STAT-C multi-drug targeted antiviral combination clinical trial began in April 2009. Click here to read more.

Do I want to treat my chronic HCV infection? Yes! But until the treatment outcomes and options improve, I wait anxiously for HCV antivirals that might be more leukemia survivor friendly.

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