hepatitis C is one of the most dangerous diseases that plague millions of people in the United States. It rarely shows any signs or symptoms in the early days, and by the time it is detected, the damage is usually already done to the body. On Thursday, August 3, the Food and Drug Administration announced the approval for a new drug to cure the feared disease.

Hepatitis C drug

The new medication, named Mavyret, was approved by the FDA and is said to cure the disease in just eight weeks. This is the first approved drug for treatment of all forms of the disease. It was cleared by all adult hepatitis C patients who do not suffer from liver cirrhosis and also for patients who were not cured by prior forms of treatment.

This treatment will now join two other hepatitis C medications that have been previously approved by the FDA. This will increase the number of options available to doctors and also help insurers to attain more discounts from the companies manufacturing these drugs. AbbVie, the company behind Mavyret, claims that the drug’s price without insurance for an eight-week course would be $26,400. For the 12-week treatment course, the price will go up to $39,600, and for the 16-week treatment, it will be $52,800.

The company also revealed that initially, the treatment would be offered to patients insured with Medicaid, Medicare, and the Veterans Administration. Mavyret is the first drug to offer treatment for all six types of the hepatitis C virus. Most of the earlier drugs are specifically targeted toward one or two types of the disease.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that around 2.7 million to 3.9 million people in the United States suffer from the hepatitis C disease. A person’s liver undergoes inflammation in this disease and can cause severe problems. People suffering from the chronic forms of the disease are prone to severe jaundice and liver cirrhosis. Some may need a liver transplant, failing which the virus may even cause death.

How the FDA tested the new drug

The FDA testing involved 2,300 adult patients, all of whom were given the Mavyret drug. 97.5 percent of the people without liver cirrhosis were cured within just eight weeks. However, those with kidney damage had to undergo the treatment for 12-weeks after which 98 percent were cured of the viral infection. The FDA also listed that taking Mavyret can cause side effects such as fatigue, nausea, and headaches. Former hepatitis B patients who take the drug may also cause the previous infection to come back.