Safer, better medication for Hepatitis B identified

June 27th, 2008 - 5:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 27 (IANS) Hepatitis B patients who didn’t respond to the common treatment of lamivudine might get better and safer results with another drug called entecavir, a new study has found. Chronic Hepatitis B is the 10th leading cause of death worldwide. Patients are likely to develop serious liver diseases like cirrhosis and liver cancer, especially if they have high levels of HB virus (HBV) DNA in their blood.

Lamivudine is one treatment for HBV, but the virus commonly becomes resistant and leads to disease progression. Adefovir dipivoxil is another treatment option, however, virologic suppression is not optimal.

A third drug, Entecavir, has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for patients who don’t respond to lamivudine.

Researchers led by Morris Sherman of Toronto General Hospital, studied 286 patients taking part in a double-blind, double-dummy, randomised, controlled trial comparing the safety and efficacy of entecavir (one mg daily) to lamivudine (100 mg daily).

About 57 percent taking entecavir, compared to five percent of those taking lamivudine, were classified as virologic responders and were offered continued therapy for an additional year.

The researchers then assessed the efficacy, safety and resistance profile of entecavir through 96 weeks of treatment, reports EurekAlert.

“The year two results demonstrated that patients continue to experience clinical benefit with entecavir therapy beyond one year, while the safety profile remained stable,” Sherman said.

These findings will be published in the July issue of Hepatology.

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