Pharmaceutical News
New oral drugs may eradicate hepatitis C virus infected through organ transplantation

Reported by Huang An-Chi from Taipei

New oral drugs for treating hepatitis C have been included in the NHI Benefit Scheme since last year.  So far, over 9,700 patients have received the new treatments.  The average cure rate was 99%.  According to a study published by the NTUH, heart transplant patients who are infected with chronic hepatitis C through transplantation could have the virus completely eradicated by taking the new oral drugs.  The cure rate is almost 100%.  The NTUH research team is writing up a report to submit to international journals.

According to the guidelines on organ transplantation, the organs from donors with hepatitis B or C are firstly allocated to patients also with hepatitis B or C.  However, Dr Chen Yih-Sharng of the NTUH pointed out that as hearts and livers are fatal organs, some patients would accept the organs from donors with hepatitis C and take the risk of infection.

The NTUH research team spent 2 years on this study.  This study involved 12 subjects with hepatitis C infected either before or after heart transplantation who were given 12 weeks of the new oral drug treatments.  After that, they were subject to a 12-week observation.  The study shows that the viruses were completely cleared.  5 patients were even considered cured.

Dr Liu Chen-Hua of the NTUH expressed that the global guidelines on organ transplantation all consider that it is not ethical to give hepatitis C infected organs to healthy patients.  However, the new oral drugs for hepatitis C may change the rule.  It is possible for patients to firstly receive the infected organ then treat the infection after the transplantation.

Dr Liu expressed that, in the US, about 75% of kidneys from hepatitis C infected donors were thrown away unused because of patients’ concerns.  The same situation also happens in Taiwan.  Dr Chen expressed that about 10 hearts from hepatitis C infected donors were transplanted to healthy patients in the past 5 years in the NTUH.  Before the launch of the new oral drugs, patients used to be treated with interferon or rebamilver therapy which could cause rejection, arrhythmia, coronary ischemia or other health risks.

The NTUH is now working on this paper, hoping its publication could change the guidelines on organ transplantation and attract more donors to give organs.

【2018-01-12/ United Daily News】