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Hepatitis C (cont.)

Hepatitis C Medications

  • Patients are treated with a combination of an injectable medicine called pegylated interferon alpha (Pegasys, PEG-Intron) and an oral antiviral drug called ribavirin (Virazole). Treatment continues for weeks or months; the exact duration of treatment depends on the response and results of blood tests.
  • Recently, a new class of medications called protease inhibitors have been approved for the treatment of genotype type 1 HCV. Examples include telaprevir (Incivek) and boceprevir (Victrelis). These medications are given along with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. In some cases, adding a protease inhibitor can shorten the overall duration of treatment.

Most people tolerate these drugs, although side effects are common. Side effects may be mild or debilitating. Women taking these medications for HCV should avoid getting pregnant during treatment. Common side effects of HCV treatment include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Low hemoglobin level in the blood (anemia) or low blood cell counts
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Mild fevers
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss
  • Itching
  • Skin rash
  • Sinus congestion and cough

These medications can have other, less common side effects that may be serious. The patient should discuss these with their health care provider before starting treatment.

Medical Editor:

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Hepatitis C »

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 170 million individuals worldwide are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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