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Viral Hepatitis

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FAQ: What treatments are available?

for Veterans and the Public

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What treatments are available?

Hepatitis C is typically treated with a combination of two drugs:

  • Pegylated interferon--self injected, under the skin, once per week
  • Ribavirin--pills, taken by mouth, twice per day

These two drugs are taken together for a limited period of time, usually 12 months, occasionally for 6 months. Very rarely, pegylated interferon is used alone, without ribavirin. Ribavirin is never used alone, only with pegylated interferon. In research studies, ribavirin is used in combination with drugs other than interferon.

In May 2011, the FDA approved two new drugs for the treatment of hepatitis C: telaprevir (Incivek) and boceprevir (Victrelis). The new drugs are approved specifically for patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C. These drugs are Direct-Acting Antiviral Agents (DAAs). They don't replace the 2-drug combination of pegylated interferon with ribavirin but must be used with them, for a 3-drug combination. Telaprevir and boceprevir can't be used alone and they can't be used together.

In addition to telaprevir and boceprevir, there are also other multiple new DAA drugs under investigation. When new drugs become FDA approved, we will update our information to detail the information on any new drug for hepatitis C.