The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Victrelis (boceprevir) to treat certain adults with chronic hepatitis C. Victrelis is used for patients who still have some liver function, and who either have not been previously treated with drug therapy for their hepatitis C or who have failed such treatment. Victrelis is approved for use in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin.
The safety and effectiveness of Victrelis was evaluated in two phase 3 clinical trials with 1,500 adult patients. In both trials, two-thirds of patients receiving Victrelis in combination with pegylated interferon and ribavirin experienced a significantly increased sustained virologic response (i.e., the hepatitis C virus was no longer detected in the blood 24 weeks after stopping treatment), compared to pegylated interferon and ribavirin alone, the current standard of care.
When a person sustains a virologic response after completing treatment, this suggests that HCV infection has been cured.
Sustained virologic response can result in decreased cirrhosis and complications of liver disease, decreased rates of liver cancer (hepatocelluar carcinoma), and decreased mortality.
"Victrelis is an important new advance for patients with hepatitis C," said Edward Cox, M.D., M.P.H, director, Office of Antimicrobial Products in FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "This new medication provides an effective treatment for a serious disease, and offers a greater chance of cure for some patients' hepatitis C infection compared to currently available therapy."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 3.2 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C, a viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver that can lead to diminished liver function or liver failure.
Most people with hepatitis have no symptoms of the disease until liver damage occurs, which may take several years.