Hepatitis C (HPVC) is a virus that attacks the liver, and will take up residence for the long term. The body is unable to rid itself of the virus and it will continue to replicate in the liver, potentially leading to cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer and potentially death. Recently some powerful new drugs have won approval that treat various parts of the HPVC replication cycle. Jon Cohen  reports in Science Magazine  of a new treatment combining the most promising of these drugs into a single therapy that in a small clinical trial cured patients of the virus in just 3 weeks. While the trial tested this idea out on the most treatable patients, it clearly demonstrated the power of the new drugs.
There is a downside to the story in that the drugs developed are prohibitively expensive with some of them selling for $1000 a pill. In addition the various drug companies have not tried these therapies sooner because they seem themselves as competitors, not collaborators. However, physicians are free to prescribe the drugs in combination. It’s a great day for science and drug development.
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