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ASCEND Study Looks at Community-based Hepatitis C Treatment

A new trial sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health will evaluate whether primary care physicians and other health care providers such as nurse practitioners can provide interferon-free therapy for hepatitis C as effectively as hepatologists or infectious disease specialists. If successful, community-based care could greatly expand the number of people able to access treatment.

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CROI 2015: Good Sofosbuvir/Ledipasvir Adherence in SYNERGY and ERADICATE Trials

Overall adherence rates ranged from 96% to nearly 100% in 2 clinical trials of sofosbuvir/ledipasvir (Harvoni) treatment in an urban population of hepatitis C and HIV/HCV coinfected patients traditionally considered difficult to treat, researchers reported at the recent 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle. Adherence dropped off over time, however, underlining the importance of short-duration therapy.

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2. Harvoni and Viekira Pak: Effective Oral Combinations for HCV Genotype 1

2014 saw the long-awaited U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of new interferon-free combination regimens for people with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C: Gilead Sciences sofosbuvir/ledipasvir coformulation (Harvoni) in October and AbbVie's paritaprevir/ritonavir/ombitasvir plus dasabuvir regimen (Viekira Pak, formerly known as "3D") in late December. 

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Merck Plans to Discontinue Boceprevir for Hepatitis C by December 2015

Merck will stop selling its HCV protease inhibitor boceprevir (Victrelis) by December of this year, and no new patients should be started on the drug, the company announced in a recent "Dear Healthcare Professional" letter. While the first-generation HCV protease inhibitors improved the effectiveness of pegylated interferon plus ribavirin, they are no match in terms of efficacy or tolerability for the newer interferon-free combinations approved over the past 2 years.

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3. High Hepatitis C Treatment Cost Leads to Restrictions, Sets Off Price War

The high cost of new interferon-free hepatitis C treatments has raised concerns about how public payers and private insurers will be able to afford them and sparked a more general discussion about the cost of pharmaceuticals in a changing healthcare landscape.

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