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Author Topic: Upsurge in HCV Deaths Despite New Treatments  (Read 6129 times)

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Offline Lynn K

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Upsurge in HCV Deaths Despite New Treatments
« on: October 16, 2015, 12:21:37 am »

SAN DIEGO -- Despite dramatic improvements in treatment, mortality from hepatitis C (HCV) continues to rise in the U.S., a researcher said here.

In fact, annual HCV-associated deaths have surpassed the total number of deaths linked to the other 60 nationally notifiable infectious diseases combined, according to Scott Holmberg, MD,MPH, of the CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis in Atlanta.

In 2013, that meant HCV was listed as one of the multiple causes of death in 19,358 cases, followed by 8,831 cases in which HIV was listed, with all other causes down the track, Holmberg said at the IDWeek meeting, held jointly by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS).

And the numbers are almost certainly a marked underestimate, Holmberg said, since, in a well-characterized cohort of HCV patients, only about one in five patients who died had the disease listed on the death certificate.

The finding should not come as a surprise to those in the field, commented Paul Griffiths, MD, DSc, of University College London, who was not part of the study but who moderated the session at which it was presented.

"People should already be aware of the issue," he told MedPage Today, "but it's good to see the data."

The main problem, he said, is that new and highly effective drugs are not being "deployed" as widely as they could be, largely because of cost. "It is usually better to treat someone early in the disease," he said but that's not what's happening.

Instead, because of the cost, payers are prioritizing the sickest patients, while hundreds of thousands of people wait for treatment, including many who are not yet aware they have chronic HCV.

Holmberg drew a distinction between "two epidemics" -- the estimated 3.2 million people in the U.S. with chronic HCV and the emerging epidemic of acute disease among rural injection drug users.

It's the chronic patients who pose the biggest problem, he said, simply because there are many more of them. To see exactly how big the problem is, he and colleagues turned to national death certificate records and the prospective longitudinal Chronic Hepatitis Cohort Study (CHeCS).

An earlier analysis of death certificates revealed that HCV deaths outstripped HIV deaths starting in 2007, Holmberg noted. To amplify that result, his group analyzed ICD-10 codes in death certificates from 2003 through 2013, looking for HCV and 60 other notifiable infectious diseases listed as "underlying conditions."

They calculated mortality rates by dividing annual deaths associated with each condition by the census population for that year.

In 2003, the other 60 conditions combined were cited in about 25,000 deaths, compared with about 11,000 for HCV. But the curves were going in different directions and crossed in 2011, Holmberg said.

Coincidentally, the first of the so-called direct-acting agents against HIV got approval that year, agents that have been followed by a swarm of other drugs that hold the potential to cure HIV.

Griffiths noted that HCV, unlike many chronic diseases, can be cured since the virus can only persists if it is allowed to replicate -- something that the new drugs block.

To get a sense of how well death certificates capture the HCV mortality picture, the authors turned to the CHeCS data from 2007 through 2013, including information on more than 12,000 patients with some 54,544 person-years of follow-up.

They found that the death rate in the cohort had doubled, from 2.4 per 100 person-years in 2007 to 5.4 per 100 person-years in 2013, for a total of 1,600 deaths among the HCV patients.

Importantly, he said, only 19% of the death certificates of those people mentioned HCV, despite pre-mortem evidence of serious liver disease in more than 75% of them. If that rate can be extrapolated to the national death certificates, it would mean that HCV was associated with between 75,000 and 100,000 deaths in 2013, instead of about 19,300.

A key issue is that the "continuum of care" for HCV includes several barriers to cure, including cost of medications, doctors who think HCV is a "benign" disease, patients who often have more pressing life issues, and political attitudes, he said.
Genotype 1a
1978 contracted, 1990 Dx
1995 Intron A failed
2001 Interferon Riba null response
2003 Pegintron Riba trial med null response
2008 F4 Cirrhosis Bx
2014 12 week Sov/Oly relapse
10/14 fibroscan 27 PLT 96
2014 24 weeks Harvoni 15 weeks Riba
5/4/15 EOT not detected, ALT 21, AST 20
4 week post not detected, ALT 26, AST 28
12 week post NOT DETECTED (07/27/15)
ALT 29, AST 27 PLT 92
24 week post NOT DETECTED! (10/19/15)
44 weeks (3/11/16)  fibroscan 33, PLT 111, HCV NOT DETECTED!


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