The Steering Committee of the European Liver Patients’ Association met with representatives of the pharmaceutical industry on December 14-15, 2012 in Istanbul. The purpose of the last out of the four Advisory Board Meetings for the past year was to discuss clinical trials and new therapeutic and medical developments.
With the approval of the first generation of direct acting antivirals in 2011, chances of curing hepatitis C have drastically increased. However, the first generation of antiviral drugs still has to be combined in the form of the so-called triple therapy with peg-interferon and ribavirin. The current standard therapy benefits only some patients due to additional side effects, drug interactions, resistant viruses and contraindications. Therefore, the patient community eagerly awaits improved treatments with fewer side effects and even better efficacy. At the AASLD liver congress in Boston in November 2012, some of the new treatments achieved cure rates between 85 to 100% in selected patients, with and without interferon. Data for more difficult-to-treat patients is still limited, but urgently expected: many patients who cannot benefit from today’s therapies are already seriously ill and in dire need of improved treatments.
In the context of these developments, ELPA invited the companies Abbott and MSD to present data from their ongoing trials with approved and experimental hepatitis C drugs, especially their pipelines of interferon-free therapies.