Last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved another in a series of medicines that have dramatically changed the outlook for those diagnosed with hepatitis C.
Epclusa is a single pill taken once a day for 12 weeks. It is the first drug to clear all six strains of the virus in up to 99 percent of patients.
It also is the latest direct acting antiviral — a drug that stops the virus from replicating itself. Previous drugs worked by helping the body fight off the infection.
Before these antivirals became available in 2013, treatments for hepatitis C were only moderately effective. Their side effects, which included depression, anemia, and flu-like symptoms, were often worse than the early stages of the disease itself.
“I was so ill I just ended up telling myself that I could make it through one hour and then the next,” wrote commenter N. V. on the website Hepatitis Central, describing the side effects of the old medications. “All I know is that I had a better life before the treatment than I have now and I was a lot stronger.”
Faced with such side effects and given the fact that the infection can be asymptomatic for years, many patients chose to just wait until something better came along.
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