The literature supports intereferon with the two recently FDA approved oral medications that can be used in combination with the current antiviral regimen or to replace the injectable component of the regimen, peginterferon alfa.
The two new products are Olysio (simeprevir) capsules and Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) tablets. Both work by stopping the replication of the Hepatitis C virus.
Olysio 150 mg capsules are a once-daily treatment that must be used in combination with pegylated interferon (peginterferon alfas like Pegasys or Pegintron) and ribavirin. It cannot be used as monotherapy, which means it can’t be used alone. Sovaldi 400 mg tablets are a once-daily treatment that can be used without the injectable peginterferon alfa. This is novel in hepatitis therapy because the peginterferon alfa injectable often contributes to patients not finishing their course of Hep C therapy due to the unfavorable side effects.
Based on a side-by-side review if disparate studies, Sovald appears ti be more versatile than Olysio as it is approved for treatment of genotypes 1, 2, 3 and 4. Also, for genotype 2 and 3, Sovaldi can be taken with ribavirin alone, excluding the need for interferon altogether. (Interferon, perhaps the most dreaded component of HCV therapy, is administered by injection and many side effects. On the other hand, Olysio must always be used in combination with interferon and ribavirin for the duration of either 24 weeks (for treatment-naive patients) or 48 weeks (for patients previously exposed to HCV therapy). However,iti cannot be used with many retroviral drugs. These drugs are less toxic. Currently, one in seven patients on Incivek or Victrelis abandon therapy prematurely due to high levels of toxic side effects — including severe anemia and serious decreases in blood platelets or neutrophil levels. Additionally, the FDA has warned that Incivek can cause potentially life-threatening skin rash, particularly in patients with cirrhosis (scarring of the liver).
Using the two together is beginning to be explored, with early results showing efficacy in even hard-to-treat HCV.patients.