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Pharmaceutical companies collaborate on hepatitis C treatment

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Bloomberg News recently reported that Vertex Pharmaceuticals plans on testing its hepatitis C treatment, Incivek, with drugs from pharmaceutical companies Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline in two separate 12-week clinical trials.

"We view this as a best case path forward for Vertex, as it allows the company to explore VX-135 with two different classes, partnered with major pharmaceutical companies who are fairly dependent on the success of these respective combinations to remain competitive in the all-oral hepatitis-C virus race," said Wells Fargo Securities analyst, Brian Abrahams in a research note, the news source reported.

According to Bloomberg News, other pharmaceutical companies such as Gilead Sciences, Abbott Laboratories and Bristol-Myers Squibb, have all been engaging in combination therapy, which health professionals believe is the most effective way of treating hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C facts
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that hepatitis C causes inflammation of the liver. Groups who are at risk of contracting the virus include people have been on long-term kidney dialysis, healthcare workers who regularly come into contact with blood, intravenous drug users, people who have received a blood transfusion previous to July 1992 and people who share toothbrushes or razors with those who have hepatitis C.

Some symptoms of the virus include pain in the right upper abdomen, abdominal swelling, dark urine, fatigue, fever and itching. The virus can be detected with a blood test and, according to the NIH, other tests are usually issued to detect the amount of damage that has been done to the liver.

Treatment of hepatitis C aims to remove the virus from the blood and to prevent cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. It includes weekly injections and daily oral consumption of pegylated interferon alfa and ribavirin. The NIH warns against taking nutritional supplements or vitamins without consulting a physician, and the source also notes that drinking alcohol can cause hepatitis C to progress faster and reduce the effectiveness of treatments.

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