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Hepatitis C therapy shows promise

Category: Infectious Diseases

Pharmaceutical company Gilead's stock price rose to $72.73 per share, the highest it's been in nearly 20 years, after its hepatitis C treatment successfully treated patients involved in an experimental trial, reported Bloomberg.

Gilead is one of several companies racing to find a treatment for hepatitis C that works quickly and without side effects. Rival manufacturers Achillion Pharmaceuticals and Vertex Pharmaceuticals showed a decline in the marketplace - 20 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively - after the news of Gilead's success broke, according to Bloomberg.

"In 2013, given that Gilead's regimen has the best overall profile (efficacy, safety, convenience), we anticipate a significant amount of warehousing," wrote Ravi Mehrotra, an analyst for Credit Suisse, in a research note.

Runner up
Another pharmaceutical company, Abbott, showed signs of success in developing a treatment for the virus. By combining three drugs along with a booster known as ritonavir, 87 percent of the subjects involved in its 12-week trial were cleared of the disease, and another combination of its drugs, which involved the hepatitis C medication ribavirin, cured 97 percent of the patients. Gilead's treatment regimen has the advantage though because it uses fewer pills, reported Bloomberg.

Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C, which can be detected with blood testing, is usually contracted through contact with blood. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), some symptoms include abdominal pain, dark urine, fever, nausea and a loss of appetite.

Traditional treatment for the disease seeks to eliminate the virus from the blood in order to decrease the chance of developing liver cancer and cirrhosis of the liver.

Some prevention methods that the NIH recommends include not taking intravenous drugs, and for healthcare workers to always be cautious when handling blood and other bodily fluids. Sexual partners should also be screened for the disease, even though the likelihood of transmitting hepatitis C via intercourse is low.

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