A recent study (LI Backus et al. Hepatology 2018; 68: 827-38, editorial 804-06) indicates that direct-acting antivirals (DAA) improve mortality in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) without advanced liver disease.
Using a registry from the Veterans Affairs, the authors identified 40,664 treated with interferon-free DAA regimens. Overall there was a 96.8% sustained virologic response (SVR). These patients were compare with 62,882 patients who did not receive DAA and without apparent advanced fibrosis.
Background: Long-term benefits have been established in patients with HCV and advanced fibrosis who have had viral eradication with DAA regimens with less hepatic decompensation and less hepatocellular carcinoma.
- SVR in this cohort was associated with a 59% unadjusted reduction in all-cause mortality when compared to those who did not achieve SVR and a 69% reduction compared to the untreated cohort.
- In absolute terms, 1-year mortality rates were reduced by 1.3% with SVR compared to treated group without SVR and by 2.9% compared to no treatments.
These declines in mortality occurred despite the fact that DAA-treated patients had more comorbid conditions and similar access to providers among the three groups. The findings in this population of veterans will need to be replicated in other populations.
My take: This study is a big leap forward by showing that even in groups without advanced fibrosis, treatment with DAA improved a significant clinical endpoint not just a biomarker. There are likely other unmeasured benefits in terms of health and quality of life that are likely to accrue after viral eradication
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