Friday, October 6, 2017

News Recap:

Liver Cancer
Two studies on liver cancer in the news last week highlighted the global prevalence and causes of this terrible disease.  The first showed a direct correlation between excess weight and cancer occurrence (including liver cancer) – Cancers linked to excess weight make up 40% of all US diagnoses, study finds, while the second focussed on the global incidence of primary liver cancer. Hepatitis B virus was the leading cause of new cases of liver cancer in 2015, the research showed – Liver cancer remains a leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide.

The AASLD and the Infectious Diseases Society of America have updated their guidelines and resources for the diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C virus infection. The updated guidelines, posted on their website HCVguidelines.org, will reflect recent FDA drug approvals of Mavyret and Vosevi – AASLD, IDSA update HCV guidance for resistance, new drug approvals.

Also in the news, it was found that patients with hepatitis C and Child-Pugh A cirrhosis had similar rates of treatment-related adverse events and lower rates of hepatic decompensation after treatment with Viekira Pak (Holkira Pak in Canada) compared with untreated patients, according to recently published data – Viekira Pak safe for patients with HCV, Child-Pugh A cirrhosis.

Access to Treatment
(USA) The recent approval of Mavyret – a less expensive drug that generally cures hepatitis C in just eight weeks – may make it easier for more insurers and correctional facilities to expand treatment. The hope it that the lowered costs will increase access to those in Prisons and on Medicaid – U.S.: Hepatitis C Drug’s Lower Cost Paves Way For Medicaid, Prisons To Expand Treatment.

(Canada) Status First Nations people in B.C. will begin health coverage under a tailored version of the provincial pharmacare system on Sunday, marking the first time a province takes over health care coverage for that group. In that most HCV drugs are now covered by BC PharmaCare this should mean better access to treatment for First Nations people with hepatitis C in British Columbia – 143,000 First Nations to switch to tailored B.C. Pharmacare plan

With hepatitis C virus starting to look like a conquered foe, attention is turning to the fight against chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV). Of note are recent developments at Arbutus Biopharma: Positive phase 2 data for Arbutus’ lead HBV candidate ARB-1467, which suggest the gene-silencing drug can further reduce hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) levels when added to Gilead’s mainstay HBV drug Viread (tenofovir) – Vivek Ramaswamy’s Roivant backs Arbutus’ hepatitis B program.

It’s not only DAAs than can reactivate HBV. In patients with inflammatory arthritis receiving disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), rates of hepatitis B reactivation differ between those whose disease is resolved and those with chronic HBV infection. Patients with chronic HBV generally have a 5-fold to 8-fold higher risk for HBV reactivation than those with resolved HBV – Reactivation Rate of Hepatitis B in Inflammatory Arthritis Tx With DMARDs.