Hepatitis C is a disease of viral origin that affects the liver. This contagious disease is usually acquired when an individual comes into contact with infected fluids like blood. This pathology is caused by the Hepatitis C virus. This disease is a burden on the health system because it usually leads to severely debilitating disease like liver failure and it is a significant contributor of cases of liver cancer in the world.
There have been several modes of treatment which have been introduced to curb this viral infection. Ribavirin and interferon-alpha were the preferred modes of treatment but their side effects of were so severe. A breakthrough by Gilead Sciences in the month of October 2014, has led to the introduction of a novel drug known as Harvoni: this drug is a combination of two compounds, sofosbuvir and ledipasvir.
Gilead Harvoni for Hepatitis C treatment
Gilead Harvoni mdecine is available in the form of tablet that are orange in color and coated with a film. Every tablet is made up of two compounds “sofosbuvir” which contributes 400mg same as in Sovaldi while the second compound known as ledipasvir contributes 90 mg to the tablet.
The Harvoni tablet is taken orally and the suggested dosing is that the tablet is taken once a day. There are no studies that indicate that food has a negative or additive effect on the drugs therefore the drug can be taken before meals or after the meals.
The highest concentration of the drug is achieved after about four hours after the administration. The drug has a high affinity for plasma proteins and this means that care should be taken if the drug is administered with other drugs like phenytoin that bind to plasma proteins to avoid drug interactions.
The drug is broken down from the body by the liver enzymes that are responsible for detoxification of drugs. Several enzymes that are members of the cytochrome family are responsible for the breakdown. The enzymes that breakdown the enzyme are of great concern because there are commonly drugs like antacids and some antifungals are potent enzyme inhibitors. This means that the enzymes responsible for detoxifying the drug are inhibited. Care is needed when this drugs are given together with Harvoni because these drugs will lead to the accumulation of the Harvoni drug which may precipitate further complications in the human body.
The drug is eliminated from the body majorly by urine and feces. This is important because in patients with any disease of the kidney, careful monitoring is required when they are put on the drug.
Harvoni Mechanism of Action
Hepatitis C virus, the causative agent of hepatitis C belongs to the Flaviviridae Family and there at least six genotypes of the virus that have been documented. In order to replicate in the body, the hepatitis C virus requires a protein known as nonstructural protein 5A. Ledipasvir, one of the constituents of the drug, targets this protein with a view of stopping the multiplication of the virus in the body. Sofosbuvir, the other constituent of the drug actively targets the nonstructural protein 5B. Sofosbuvir is converted to a triphosphate in the body and the nonstructural protein 5B incorporates the triphosphate molecule into the RNA of the virus and this leads to the destruction of the virus because the RNA that is formed is defective.
Harvoni Cost, Side Effects and Availability
This novel drug is expensive because of the reduced side effects and the increased efficacy it has against this deadly virus. The cost is a disadvantage to those patients who are put on long term treatment because most of the health insurance companies would not want to incur such high costs, however the aim of the company is to reduce the standard regimen from twelve weeks to eight weeks while increasing the levels of efficacy in order to accommodate as many patients as possible.
Gilead Harvoni Price
There are two recommended forms for the regime at the moment. The standard regimen takes a period of twelve weeks while the longer regimen takes a period of twenty-four weeks. The standard twelve week therapy costs $94,500. This implies that a patient on this mode of treatment will spend an average of $ 1,125 every week which means that the cost of each pill is $1,125 and this is the amount that will be spent in a day.
Harvoni Side Effects
It is important to accept that drugs usually have side effects and Harvoni is not an exception to this rule.
Harvoni Side Effects: Nausea and diarrhea
Since the drug is taken orally, side effects that are related to the gastrointestinal tract are almost inevitable. Nausea and diarrhea are the most common side effects just like Sovaldi that have been reported and documented. The chances of experiencing these side effects usually increases with the duration of treatment. Most of the patients who received the drug over a period of twenty-four weeks were more likely to suffer from gastrointestinal problems as opposed to the patients who were on a twelve week regimen.
Harvoni Side Effects: Headaches
The central nervous system is also affected by the drug. Headache was the second most common side effect that was reported by patients that were on this drug. The chances of suffering from headaches significantly increased when the regimen was increased.
Harvoni Side Effects: Insomnia
Insomnia was another side effect that was documented although it was one of the rare effects that was associated with the drug.
Harvoni Side Effects: Fatigue
Fatigue was the most common side effect that was reported. Over a fifth of the patients on a twenty-four week regimen experienced headache while a slightly less than a fifth of the patients on an eight week regimen complained of headache.
Harvoni Side Effects: Lipase and Creatinine Increase
Liver function tests that were performed in patients who were on Harvoni treatment showed a marked increase in the level of activity of lipase and creatinine kinase while levels of bilirubin were also significantly elevated.
The side effects are less severe when compared to the side effects of its predecessors: ribavirin and interferon-alpha. Regardless of the side effects, the benefits of the drug outweigh by the far the consequences of not using the drug.
Currently, there is no authorized dealer, distributor or medicine company in Asian countries for this medicines like Sovaldi 400mg. Some Fraudulent online pharmacies may attempt to sell an illegal generic version of Harvoni. These medications may be counterfeit and potentially unsafe. If you want to purchase this medicine then contact with government authorized medicines importers because they have warranty to purchase such kind of medicines legally.