Ledipasvir-Sofosbuvir for Children 6-11 years

Almost two years ago, the FDA approved Ledipasvir-Sofosbuvir (aka Harvoni) for pediatric patients 12-17 years of age with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.  Now, a recent study (KF Murray, WF Balistreri, S Bansal et al. Hepatology 2018; 68: 2158-66) is likely to expedite approval for children ages 6-11 years of age.

In this open-label study with 92 patients, 88 had genotype 1, 89 received treatment with ledipasvir-sofosbuvir without ribavirin for 12 weeks, 97% were perinatally-infected, and 78% were treatment naive.  The median age was 9 years. The dose (determined by intense pharmacokinetics) was 45 mg-200 mg (half the adult dosage). Two patients with genotype 3 HCV received ledipasvir-sofosbuvir for 24 weeks along with ribavirin.

Key findings:

  • SVR12 was 99% (91/91).  The single patient without SVR12 had relapsed 4 weeks after completing a 12 week treatment course.
  • Ledipasvir-sofosbuvir was well-tolerated; the common adverse events reported were headache and pyrexia.

The authors note that while most children are considered to have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, some progress to have significant fibrosis or cirrhosis, a small minority develop hepatocellular carcinoma, and HCV infection can impact both cognitive development and overall health.

My take: This study confirms that effectiveness of DAA therapy with ledipasvir/sofosbuvir in children as young as 6 years of age.

Related study: F Tucci et al. Hepatology 2018; 68: 2434-37. The authors report the successful treatment with ledipasvir/sofosbuvir of an infant with both SCID and HCV infection.

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Word of Caution with New Hepatitis C Medications

From NY Times: Are New Drugs for Hepatitis C Safe? A Report Raises Concerns

An excerpt:

Drugs approved in recent years that can cure hepatitis C may have severe side effects, including liver failure, a new report suggests. The number of adverse events appears relatively small, and the findings are not conclusive. But experts said the report was a warning that should not be ignored…

The report will be published online on Wednesday [1/25/17] by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a nonprofit in Horsham, Pa., that studies drug safety. Its findings are based on the group’s analysis of the Food and Drug Administration’s database of reports from doctors around the world of adverse events that might be related to medications.

In October, the F.D.A. identified the first major safety problem caused by the nine antiviral drugs. In 24 patients, the drugs wiped out hepatitis C — but also reactivated hepatitis B infections that had been dormant. Two of those patients died, and one needed a liver transplant. The agency said there were probably additional cases that had not been reported.

As a result, the agency required that a boxed warning, its most prominent advisory, be added to the labeling of the newer antivirals, telling doctors to screen and monitor for hepatitis B in all patients taking the drugs for hepatitis C. Infection with both viruses is not common, and how the reactivation occurs is not known. The problem was not detected during premarket testing of the drugs because patients who currently had hepatitis B or who had a history of it were not allowed into the studies…

The other cases of liver failure are a separate problem. He said it was important for doctors prescribing the newer drugs to test patients’ liver function thoroughly first, because liver disease can be deceptive

My take: Overall, these newer Hepatitis C medications represent a tremendous achievement.  However, as with most medications, rare serious problems can occur and in some cases may be preventable.

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From Twitter Feed-Funny Church Signs

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Liver Briefs Feb 2017

JB Schwimmer et al. Gastroenterol 2016; 151: 1141-54.  Using a double-masked trial with 169 children with NAFLD, the use of cysteamine bitartrate for 1 year did not reduce histologic activity scores, but did reduce liver aminotransferase levels.

NA Terrault et al. Gastroenterol 2016; 151: 1131-40. The authors collected data from 2099 participants in the HCV-TARGET study who mainly received ledpasvir-sofosbuvir (311 received therapy in combination with ribavirin).  The study included 25% blacks, 66% with genotype 1A, 41% with cirrhosis, 50% with prior treatment, and 30% who were receiving proton pump therapy.  Key finding: SVR12 rates varied from 95% to 97% based on duration of therapy.  Factors that predicted SVR12 included higher albumin (>3.5 g/dL), lower total bilirubin (<1.2), absence of cirrhosis, absence of proton pump inhibitor therapy.

KR Olson et al. NEJM 2017; 376: 268-78.  This case report of an 18 yo woman with acute liver failure provides a helpful review.  For Wilson’s disease, the article reviews rapid diagnostic criteria: “a screen that shows a ratio of alkaline phosphatase (IU per liter) to total bilirubin (mg per deciliter) of lower than 4.0 and then subsequently shows a ratio of aspartate aminotransferase (IU per liter) to alanine aminotransferase (IU per liter) of higher than 2.2 has been described as 100% sensitive and specific for the diagnosis of Wilson’s disease.”  Making this diagnosis quickly is crucial and allows these patients to be UNOS status 1A, “the only cause of acute liver faliure that allows a patient with preexisting liver disease to be listed as status 1A”

Among children older than 10 years of age, Wilson's disease accounted for 90% of metabolic disease.

Among children older than 10 years of age, Wilson’s disease accounted for 90% of metabolic disease.

Competition and Costs in HCV Market

Following FDA approval of Zepatier (Elbasvir/Grazopresvir) (related blog post:In brief: Pediatric HCV trial, Exercise for NAFLD, and … – gutsandgrowth), it is gratifying to see reductions in the cost of HCV treatment.  Merck has priced Zepatier at $54,600 for a 12-week course which is substantially lower than Sovaldi ($84.000), Harvoni ($94.500), and Viekira Pak ($83,000).

Zepatier is indicated for genotypes 1 and 4 and can be used in patients with severe renal impairment, including dialysis. It is likely that this will pressure rival drug companies to lower their prices as well.

More information: Will Zepatier Shake Up the HCV Market? This link is to an issue of “Specialty Pharmacy Continuum” but interestingly this same story (?verbatim) was published months later by “Gastroenterology and Endoscopy New” (August 2016) without acknowledging the previous publication (by same author).

Grinnell Glacier Trail, Glacier Nat'l Park

Grinnell Glacier Trail, Glacier Nat’l Park

Hepatitis B & C -Winter 2016

The large randomized pediatric entecavir study for Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is now in print: MM Jonas et al. Hepatology 2016; 63: 377-87.  Full link to this study on previous blog: Pediatric Entecavir Data  This study has led to FDA approval for use of entecavir in children as young as 2 years.  One interesting aspect of the study was the 2.6% drug resistance rate in the second year of the study.  This further validates current recommendations to treat children with “immune active” phases (e.g. abnormal transaminases and abnormal histology).

Briefly noted:

H Roberts et al. Hepatology 2016; 63: 388-97.  This study provides prevalence data for chronic HBV, 1988-2012.  During 2011-12, there were approximately 850,000 Americans with chronic HBV infections.  Migration of persons from HBV endemic countries has “largely contributed to prevalence rates remaining constant since 1999.”

JM Wilder et alHepatology 2016; 63: 437-44. This study showed that ledipasvir/sofosbuvir was similarly effective in black and non-black patients, with SVR12 rates of 95% and 97% respectively.  This is important because older interferon-based treatments were much less effective in black patients.

TB Dick et al. Hepatology 2016; 63: 634-43.  This review provides in-depth guidance regarding drug-drug interactions relevant to the new direct-acting antiviral agents used to treat Hepatitis C viral infection.

NY City Data for HIV, HBV, HCV

NY City Data for HIV, HBV, HCV

Briefly Noted: E-Cigarette Use Increasing Rapidly in Kids & Gilead Profits

From NPR (accessed 4/24/15): The statistical findings, published in this week’s issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, come from the CDC’s National Youth Tobacco Survey. The latest survey found that the use of e-cigarettes increased from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014 among middle school students, and from 4.5 percent to 13.4 percent among high school students. That translates to a total of 450,000 middle school students now using e-cigs, alongside 2 million high school students.

Related blog postTobacco 21 & ENDing Combustible Tobacco Use | gutsandgrowth

 

Also, from NY Times, Gilead is making a lot of money on its Hepatitis C medications ,$4.55 billion in 1st quarter:

Sales of Gilead Sciences’ drugs to treat hepatitis C reached $4.55 billion in the first quarter, far exceeding already lofty Wall Street expectations but likely to focus attention once again on the overall costs to the health care system of the medicines.

Gilead said on Thursday that its new drug, Harvoni, had overall sales in the quarter of $3.58 billion, of which $3.02 billion was in the United States. This was the first full quarter of sales for Harvoni, which was approved in October.

Sales of Sovaldi, the older hepatitis C drug, fell to $972 million in the quarter from $2.27 billion in the first quarter of 2014 because it was supplanted by Harvoni. Combined, hepatitis C drug sales in the first quarter were double that of a year earlier.

University of Chicago

University of Chicago -Midway

Have You Heard of Harvoni?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on 10/10/14 approved Harvoni (ledipasvir and sofosbuvir) to treat chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 infection.

“Harvoni is the first combination pill approved to treat chronic HCV genotype 1 infection. It is also the first approved regimen that does not require administration with interferon or ribavirin, two FDA-approved drugs also used to treat HCV infection.”

Full FDA press release –includes data supporting approval.

Related blog postThe Future is Now (for Hepatitis C) | gutsandgrowth