Background: Among patients with chronic hepatitis C, 20-30% develop hepatic cirrhosis and its complications within 30 years. The antiviral treatment of hepatitis C, previously interferon-based, has recently become inter - feron-free, with resulting improvements in sustained virological response rates, safety, and tolerability and a shorter duration of treatment.
Methods: This review is based on relevant publications retrieved by a selective literature search, and particularly on studies and reviews concerning the course and treatment of hepatitis C.
Results: The available drugs for interferon-free antiviral treatment of hepatitis C include inhibitors of the RNAdependent RNA polymerase, NS3/4A protease, and NS5A protein of the hepatitis C virus (HCV), and ribavirin. Typically, two specific inhibitors are given in combination; the usual duration of treatment is 12 weeks.The antiviral drugs differ in their genotypic antiviral effectiveness and resistance barriers. The appropriate drug(s) should be chosen in consideration of the patient's hepatic and renal function and potential drug interactions. These drugs are safe and well-tolerated and result in sustained virological response rates between 90% and 100%.
Conclusion: All patients with hepatitis C, whatever their disease stage, can derive a sustained eradication of HCV from a combination of drugs with direct antiviral activity. Viral eradication is associated with a better quality of life and with lower morbidity and mortality.