updated 5:00 p.m. ET, Wed., April 29, 2009
LOS ANGELES – An experimental drug greatly increased the number of people who appear to be cured of hepatitis C infection, according to results of mid-stage testing.
The findings also suggest the drug telaprevir, made by Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., which sponsored the two studies, can cut treatment time from one year to six months. However, those taking the drug reported more side effects including severe rash, nausea and anemia than those on standard treatment alone.
Still, telaprevir and similar drugs that other companies are testing offer hope of a major advance against the disease, which afflicts about 3.2 million Americans and 180 million people worldwide. It is caused by a bloodborne virus that can lead to liver scarring or liver cancer.