Global News and CTV News are reporting that Health Canada has approved the hepatitis C treatment sofosbuvir / velpatasvir (American brand name Epclusa) for use in Canada. If this news is correct, Health Canada has just approved the first hep C treatment that can cure all 6 hep C virus types with high success rates!
A treatment able to cure all virus types is amazing as it has the power to make hep C treatment much easier than it is now. As Dr. Jordan Feld, a liver specialist at Toronto Western Hospital, explains, a treatment that can be used for every virus type “…eliminates the need for [virus type/genotype] testing, which often delayed treatment and can be difficult to access for those living in rural or remote regions of the country….” (Ubelacker, The Canadian Press)
News Reports Remain Unverified
The Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project tried to double check that this treatment has indeed been approved, and approved as the articles have said. However, we were unable to reach Gilead, the treatment’s developer, and Health Canada before this blog post was published. This failure to reach the two parties was probably because it was early evening in BC and so passed business hours in the East when this post was written.
We will follow this story and share additional information as it becomes available.
Sofosbuvir / Velpatasvir
Description: Sofosbuvir / velpatasvir is a short-course, interferon-free, hepatitis C treatment that can be prescribed with or without ribavirin. It is one pill taken once a day.
Treatment Lengths Approved in America:
- 12 weeks for patients without liver cirrhosis and patients with compensated liver cirrhosis (Child-Pugh A)
- 12 weeks for patients with more serious liver cirrhosis (Child-Pugh B or C) when it is combined with ribavirin.
Most Common Side Effects when Treatment is Taken Without Ribavirin:
- Fatigue (Tiredness)
Most Common Side Effects when Treatment is Taken With Ribavirin:
- Fatigue (Tiredness)
- Insomnia (Can’t sleep)
Clinical Trial Results for Sofosbuvir / Velpatasvir
In Phase III clinical trials, the treatment’s safety and effectiveness as a 12 week treatment was evaluated on 1,558 patients without liver cirrhosis or with mild cirrhosis. With or without ribavirin, it cured 95–99% of those patients. In trials, it also cured 94% of those with moderate to severe liver cirrhosis.
“This drug regimen changes the standard of care in treating patients with HCV. We can now cure almost everyone with a very simple treatment.” ~Dr. Jordan Feld, a liver specialist at Toronto Western Hospital