All About Harvoni – The Latest and Considered Most Effective Treatment for Hepatitis C
Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration have approved the use of Harvoni in the medical treatment of Hepatitis C, particularly the most common type of this disease which is the genotype 1. With the said FDA approval, this drug is now considered the most effective hepatitis treatment with success rates as high as 94-99%.
This new drug was developed and manufactured by Gilead Sciences, a biopharmaceutical firm that researches, develops, and sells medications and other therapeutics for medical conditions which are considered life-threatening or those with unmet treatment needs. Gilead Sciences is also the maker of Sovaldi, another effective pill used to treat Hepatitis C genotypes 2 and 3. In 2016, Epclusa was developed and its generic Sofosvel that can readily be used for genotype 2 and 3 as well.
Harvoni is formulated by combining 400 mg of sofosbuvir and 90 mg ledipasvir, medications which already have FDA approval and have been in use for treating and inhibiting the Hepatitis C virus or HCV. It’s the first of its kind to offer a single pill per day oral treatment for the most common type of the HCV disease. What’s most interesting about this drug is that it has greatly reduced or even eliminated the harsh side effects experienced by patients from conventional HCV treatments like anemia, depression, etc. Based on lab tests, the only common effects would be headache and feelings of tiredness.
A generic version of Harvoni – Hepcinat LP by Natco Pharma – is finally available online. A UK company DharmaGroup Ltd. has managed to secure the distribution of generic Harvoni more than a year after it was first introduced. More and more patients prefer to buy Hepcinat LP online instead of traveling to India and buying it there (so called ‘medical tourism‘). Finally every Hepatitis C patient can get generic Harvoni shipped to his or home address by ordering it online – you can order your generic Harvoni for less than $3,000 here from UK. *The original Harvoni in the US costs $94,500.
How Harvoni Works?
The secret behind the efficacy of this drug comes from its main components or ingredients which is sofosbuvir and ledipasvir. And to be able to understand how the pill works, it helps to be familiar with Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection which is spread and acquired through contact with an infected blood. Once it’s inside your system, it primarily attacks the liver. In severe cases and when treatment is not administered, a patient can end up having more severe diseases like cirrhosis or liver cancer. But this threat doesn’t happen overnight. The development of the disease could take years and the person could be asymptomatic while the Hepatitis C virus is still multiplying inside the body.
This is where Harvoni essentially comes into the picture; to inhibit the multiplication or replication of the Hepatitis C virus and eventually eliminate the virus in a patient’s system. Both the sofosbuvir and ledipasvir compounds are direct acting antivirals (DAAs) and they prevent or take effect during the HCV replication. Sovaldi or sofosbuvir blocks the polymerase enzyme from creating the right RNA genome needed for the viral replication. On the other hand, ledipasvir inhibits the NS5A protein of the hepatitis C virus.
Here's more about how Harvoni works.
Harvoni side effects
Most common side effects of Harvoni include fatigue (17%) and headaches (16%). Other mild side effects are nausea, diarrhea and insomnia. Frequence of adverse effects presence depends on the length of Hepatitis C treatment, with 12-week treatment being the most optimal as far as side effects are concerned.
The number 1 problem after successful Harvoni treatment is weight gain. Hepatitis C patients gain anywhere from 10 to 30 pounds of weight on 12-week program. Here is how to lose weight gains when on Harvoni.
There are also some more severe side effects that occur in less than 1 in 100 patients. These are allergic reaction on skin such as rashes or itching or on lungs, problem being heavier breathing. Cardiac arrest and heart failure were also reported by patients, but changes of experiencing such side effects are extremely small.
Common treatments for Harvoni side effects include B12 vitamins for fatigue and anti-migrene drugs, probiotics for diarrhiea. You can read more about Harvoni side effects here.
The Price of Harvoni Treatment
Although Harvoni is deemed to be effective in treating the disease, the major drawback is the price of availing the treatment. With the price of $1,125 per pill, it will also be considered the most expensive treatment for the disease. But according to Gilead Sciences, the full cost of treatment will be better compared to the use of combination medications like Sovaldi plus ribavirin or Olysio plus interferon and Ribavirin. Not to mention the cost of dealing with the side effects of these drug combinations. If you want to know what is the price of Harvoni across the world, read about Harvoni cost in US, Canada, India, Egype and Europe.
Based on the FDA approval or on the prescribed treatment duration, Harvoni needs to be taken for 12 straight weeks. This compounds the cost of treatment to a whopping $94,500.