Manage Your Liver
Q:

What can be done to protect your liver if you cannot afford costly antiviral Hepatitis C treatment?

What can be done to protect your liver if you cannot afford costly antiviral Hepatitis C treatment?
A:

Eliminating the virus in patients’ body has been deemed as the only approach to treat hepatitis C. Direct-acting antiviral drugs (DDAs) launched in recent years are proved to be more effective than interferon, but they are very expensive, thus arousing great debate in the society. Take the latest DAA as example, the cost of a twelve-week treatment is $94,500, that means a single pill costs $1125. Patients with cirrhosis who have failed prior treatment require 24 weeks of DAA treatment [1], this amount is unaffordable to the majority of the public. With other obstacles such as side effects and low effectiveness, are there other options for hepatitis C patients?

 

Although liver damage in Hepatitis C patients is caused by the hepatitis virus, Dr. Howard Monsour, M.D. suggested that “it is more important 'how' your body responds to the presence of the hepatitis C virus in your liver than 'how much' virus is in your liver that counts." [2] The amount of virus in the body actually does not directly relate to the extent of liver damage. Therefore, patients should focus primarily on the health of liver cells (which can be reflected by the ALT level).

 

To the liver, the biggest threat is not the virus, but the chronic inflammation caused by attacks on the liver cells. In fact, some patients’ have normal liver function and health despite a high viral count [3]. This proves that presence of virus in the body does not necessarily bring inflammation. Therefore, antiviral treatment is not the only treatment option for hepatitis C. Patients who are not able to receive treatment should understand that it is possible to live with the virus; the key is to enhance protection of the liver and stop inflammation.

 

In view of this, patients’ top priority should be to stop inflammation and antiviral treatment is not the only approach. A large number of scientific studies and clinical reports have proven that there are treatment options other than DAAs that can reduce liver inflammation, repair liver cells and normalize ALT level which are also highly effective and gentler on the body. [4][5]


Undoubtedly, successful eradication of the virus is the most ideal to patients; however the sacrifices and risks are not affordable to everyone. Patients must understand that the main objective of treatment is to regain liver health and this can only be achieved when inflammation is stopped.

Disclaimer:
  • * All research and clinical data should be used as reference purposes only, results may vary.
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