April 16, 2011
New drugs offer hep C patients hope
By TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun

Hepatitis patients have new hope on the horizon.

Dr. Curtis Cooper of the Ottawa Hospital says two new drugs will hopefully get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by next month, then Health Canada by the fall.

“It’s exciting. There are newer therapies, two new oral medications, in development and this is a blockbuster advance,” said Cooper.

“Right now, treatment for patients with Type 1 hep C is about 40% effective, but this would bring it up to 70-75%.”

Cooper said many Hep C patients face an uphill battle.

Some will recover, others will die.

“One to 2% of the population is infected with hep C, so it infects a lot of people,” said Cooper.

“In the old days, it was often a blood transfusion that was responsible for it. These days, it’s often a previous history of drug use.

“To get it from blood, there needs to be pretty close contact, with one person’s abrasion bleeding into another person’s abrasion — blood to blood.

“It’s not common you see that.

“Thirty to 40% eventually get sick and die from it,” said Cooper.

“But not everybody with hep C is going to get sick. My job is to figure out who is heading for trouble. There are considerable side effects with therapy and that’s why we don’t put everybody on the drugs — Ribavirin and Interferon.

“Because somebody has hep C doesn’t mean he’s toxic or dangerous. You can’t get hep C from hugs or hanging out with your granddad.

“There’s a stigma. But people with hep C shouldn’t be shunned.

For some people, the hep C affects pursuing an occupation they want to be in.”

RELATED LINKS

  • Apr. 17, 2011: How Hep C derailed Devon Nicholson's WWE deal
  • Apr. 17, 2011: The art of drawing blood
  • Devon Nicholson / Hannibal story archive

    Tim Baines is the Sports Editor for the Ottawa Sun and can be emailed at Tim.baines@sunmedia.ca.


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