Researchers found that telaprevir in combination with peginterferon and ribavirin help patients with hepatitis C. Telaprevir is a virostatic drug that inhibits viral replication.
Hepatitis C can lead to liver failure and even hepatocellular cancer. C virus infection can be transmitted through blood transfusions, sexual intercourse, needle pricks, organ transplants, body piercing, etc.. In the first phase C virus infection is asymptomatic, but gradually nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue occur. There are cases in which C virus infection is manifested by acute symptoms such as nausea, joint pain, muscle pain, etc.. Sometimes jaundice occurs. Some of those infected with the virus C eliminate the infection, some are healthy carriers and some become chronic carriers. Of the latter, about 30% develop cirrhosis and hepatocellular cancer. Cirrhosis brings some complications such as portal hypertension and esophageal varices. The main risk is rupture of esophageal varices with the appearance of upper gastrointestinal bleeding . In addition to this complication, which can be fatal sometimes, there are also other consequences such as bruising, bleeding, endocrine disorders, portal encephalopathy etc. The only way to prevent virus C infection is to increase hygiene measures and halt the transmission because there is no vaccine against C available yet.
Studies by researchers at the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) wanted to show what is the effectiveness of telaprevir when treatming viral hepatitis C. They compared the effects of several groups of patients treated with standard therapy (peginterferon and ribavirin) or with triple therapy, ie peginterferon, ribavirin and telaprevir. The results were different depending on the group of patients and depending on outcome (mortality, morbidity, etc.). Telaprevir efficacy studies were performed on several groups of patients. The studies were conducted in patients with high viral load, patients who already had cirrhosis or not. The findings were different for different groups of patients. For example, it was found that telaprevir has an added benefit to the patients with high viral load, but without cirrhosis. Also, the researchers also found that telaprevir bring added benefice in patients without cirrhosis and in non-responders cirrhosis patients.
However, in patients without cirrhosis it was found that telaprevir has no benefit and can even cause some side effects, such as rash and anemia. It should be noted however that these adverse effects were considered as not serious and were not a restriction for patients with high viral load. In addition, for patients without cirrhosis and low viral load, triple therapy had no benefit compared with standard therapy (peginterferon and ribavirin).