Large Cure Rate for Patients with Hepatitis C May Have a Significant Impact on the Transplant Wait List

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The direct acting antivirals that have been used to treat many patients with hepatitis C virus and cure almost all treated in the past two years has led to many questions for the healthcare system including the impact on the transplant wait list. Researchers at Hahnemann University Hospital Drexel College of Medicine presented data at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases on the specific topic of curing patients with decompensated hepatitis C cirrhosis similar to those patients who are on the waitlist for transplantation.

Viral hepatitis is a frequent cause of decompensated cirrhosis, which starts as compensated cirrhosis in which there are no symptoms of the scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). The symptoms of progression to decompensated cirrhosis, which is life-threatening unless a liver transplant is performed, are bleeding varices, ascites, encephalopathy, and jaundice.

Patients with decompensated HCV cirrhosis comprise 30 percent of adults on the transplant list waiting for a liver. Treating these patients successfully with antiviral therapy will change their Model End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) scores. MELD scores control patient priority on the waiting list. Patients with a MELD score of 15 or lower are less likely to benefit from transplantation.

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