for Veterans and the Public
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is it true the FDA approved new drugs for hepatitis C?
Yes. In May 2011, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two new drugs for hepatitis C. The new drugs are called telaprevir (Incivek) and boceprevir (Victrelis). They belong to a class of drugs called "protease inhibitors" because of the way they act in the body. They are the first new drugs to be approved for hepatitis C since 2001.
Hepatitis C is typically treated with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. This 2-drug treatment for hepatitis C is not successful in curing the majority of patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C. (Hepatitis C has several different "types" called genotypes, the most common in the U.S. being genotype 1.)
The new drugs are approved specifically for patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C. They don't replace 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.
When patients with genotype 1 take a 3-drug combination of pegylated interferon, ribavirin, and either telaprevir or boceprevir, the majority will cure their hepatitis C.